GRAND FORKS, N.D. - Shane Pinto scored the game’s only goal midway through the third period to give No. 2 North Dakota a 1-0 victory over Colorado College Friday night at Ralph Engelstad Arena.
CC’s Alex Berardinelli was called for tripping at the 9:25 mark of the final period, and the league-leading Fighting Hawks (20-3-3, 11-2-2-2 NCHC) took advantage. Former Tiger Westin Michaud’s shot from the right circle was saved by CC netminder Matt Vernon, but the puck caromed off the back wall to the other side of the net, where Pinto was there to place the rebound behind Vernon at 10:23 of the third.
The Tigers (8-14-1, 3-11-1 NCHC) had a couple of chances late, including a couple of looks by Berardinelli and Chris Wilkie in the waning minutes with Vernon on the bench, but UND’s Peter Thome stopped both, two of his 25 saves in the shutout.
Vernon stood toe-to-toe with Thome all game, especially in the first period, making no less than three spectacular saves in the first 20 minutes, including one after his stick was knocked out his hands and he stoned Michaud from point-blank range with Jack Gates’ stick.
Colorado College had a couple of great looks in the second period, including a breakaway by Wilkie that Thome knocked aside, and an odd-man rush late in the frame.
“We played hard and played the right way tonight,” head coach Mike Haviland said. “It was a tight checking game. We had a breakaway and a 2-on-1 in the second and then they get a nice bounce on their goal.”
Vernon finished the game with 29 saves and held North Dakota to the fewest goals at home this season.
“I thought Matt was really good tonight,” Haviland said. “He made the saves early on that you need to in this building. He gave us a chance to win and it was a great sign for him to play the way he did tonight.”
After North Dakota held a 10-5 advantage in shots during the first 20 minutes, the teams each had 20 shots in the final two periods. Pinto led all players with six shots, while Wilkie, a transfer from North Dakota, led the Tigers with four.
“We had to tighten it up, we know we can play this way and tonight we applied it,” Haviland said. “If we have that playoff mentality, you’re going to give yourself a chance to win the game.”
The teams will wrap up the two-game series on Saturday, Feb. 1, beginning at 7:00 pm (CT).