GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- Shades of the old-school rivalry between Wisconsin and North Dakota were readily apparent Friday night in the series opener between the Badgers and UND. A sold out crowd of 11,864 fans at Ralph Engelstad Arena were treated to a classic throw up your dukes type of game that these two clubs are known for.
The two teams traded blows early in the second period on the scoreboard, but the two men in goal stole the show the rest of the way, as Wisconsin and North Dakota skated to a 1-1 draw.
It may have been a low-scoring affair, but it wasn't short on theatrics. Wisconsin and North Dakota traded punches all night--sometimes even literally. Things got testy late in the second period, as both teams saw players receive 10-minute misconducts from the ruckus.
"There was great energy in the building, lots of wild, crazy things going on the ice," Wisconsin head coach Mike Eaves said. "Entertaining game for the fans."
After a scoreless first period, North Dakota jumped ahead when UND's star winger Danny Kristo was able sneak one past Wisconsin goaltender Landon Peterson on the power-play. Kristo released a shot from the top of the circles that went five-hole on Peterson, and just barely squeaked across the goal-line.
Before they could even announce the scoring, Wisconsin jumped right back into things on a goal from Michael Mersch. The tally came just :13 seconds later, and was started by a hustle play from junior center Mark Zengerle. Chasing a loose puck in UND's zone, Zengerle was able to poke the puck free to Mersch who attempted a wrap-around, and was able to finish his own rebound to knot things up at one.
The assist was a milestone for Zengerle, as he became the 71st player from the University of Wisconsin to join the century club. Zengerle is now just the second player in the Mike Eaves era to reach 100 points in less than 100 games. The other? A fellow by the name of Joe Pavelski.
On top of the milestone, the goal was obviously a huge one for Wisconsin as they were able to quiet the home crowd shortly after a UND goal.
"That was our talk on the bench, let's respond," Eaves said. "And that's the best response you can get, scoring right away."
Things got testy towards the end of the second period, as multiple scuffles broke out between the two clubs. One saw five-foot-six Rocco Grimaldi on the back of Wisconsin defenseman Frankie Simonelli. Shortly after those two were sent to the box, a bigger melee broke out in the neutral zone.
The penalties evened up, and the main culprits--UND's Andrew MacWilliam, and Wisconsin's Jake McCabe--were both assessed 10-minute misconducts.
"I haven't seen scuffles like that in a long time," Eaves quipped after the game. "It was a little bit of a back to the future type of thing."
Peterson, and North Dakota goaltender Zane Gothberg stole the show the rest of the way, including multiple times on the man advantage. Both clubs had opportunities on the power-play, including overtime, but neither squad was able to solve the other goaltender the rest of the way.
Gothberg, a freshman from Thief River Falls, Minn., finished the night with 29 saves, while Peterson, a sophomore from Oregon, Wisc., recorded 21.
With the tie, Peterson remains unbeaten in games played on the road this season (3-0-2). While he wasn't overworked, teammate Michael Mersch noted that he made some big-time stops.
"Landon stood on his head for us," Mersch said. "He made some big saves at crucial times."
These two teams will be back in action Saturday night in a game that will carry historical significance. As you're probably aware, it will mark the final time these two clubs meet as regular season members of the WCHA. If Friday's game was any indication of what we can expect, I'd probably find my way to a television set.
The tie extended Wisconsin's WCHA unbeaten streak to 11 games, but the Badgers are looking for something extra on Saturday.
"This is a tough environment to play at," Mersch noted. "So we'll take this point and move forward tomorrow ready to get a win."
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