BEMIDJI, Minn. — Josh Archibald and Dominic Zombo scored goals and John Faulkner made 22 saves as UNO completed a sweep of Bemidji State with a 2-1 victory Saturday night and inched one point closer to first.
“It was a really good weekend for us,” UNO assistant coach Troy Jutting said. “It wasn’t pretty, but it was gritty. We took a five-minute penalty (in the second period), and it kind of wore us down. But we had great competitive level in the third period.”
Nos. 13 and 14 UNO (15-9-2 overall, 11-5-2 WCHA) had been 1-7-4 against the Beavers over the past three seasons, but emerged with its fifth sweep of the season, including four in WCHA play, before 3,676 at Sanford Center.
UNO, tied with top-ranked Minnesota for second place in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, climbed one point closer to first as St. Cloud State tied with North Dakota.
The Huskies lead the league with 25 points, while UNO and Minnesota each have 24.
“We obviously came up and did what we needed to do to stay in the hunt for the title,” Jutting said. “This was a big four points, on the road, at this time of the season when every point is critical.”
Zombo scored the game-winner just 1:56 into the second period.
The sophomore had gone seven games without a goal after getting seven in a span of nine games.
He starred again Saturday, scoring his eighth goal and winning 10 of 16 faceoffs, including a critical draw in the UNO defensive zone with 16 seconds left — and after Bemidji State had pulled goaltender Mathieu Dugas.
“We need Dom to score for us, and he had one of his better games over the last five or six games,” Jutting said. “He was very strong on the defensive end, too.”
Faulkner improved to 13-4-2, giving him 51 career wins — two short of matching Dan Ellis’ school record.
As in Friday’s series opener, Bemidji State scored first, as Aaron McLeod crashed the net and knocked the puck past Faulkner at 7:48. It was originally ruled no goal, but it was reversed after a video review.
“Obviously Bemidji came out with a lot of jump and forced us to have to play good defense,” Jutting said. “And our kids responded.”
UNO tied it 2:48 later, as Archibald scored his 14th goal on an assist from Ryan Walters, the Hobey Baker Award candidate’s 24th assist of the season.
“Walt made a great play in the neutral zone, intercepting the puck and then making a great feed,” Jutting said. “Our second goal was very similar, with Johnnie Searfoss taking it out of the neutral zone — two back-door goals off great passes.”
Archibald, Matt White (14) and Walters (15) are all among the top 10 goal scorers in the country.
Walters, who had two assists Friday, extended his point streak to 10 games (seven goals, eight assists) and over his last 19 games he has 15 goals and 21 assists. He leads the country with 39 points.
Archibald extended his point streak to six games, during which he has seven goals.
Searfoss, in his second game back after missing four with a back injury, has three goals and three assists in his last five games — including a goal and an assist Friday.
And maybe now, at least until potential playoff pairings are announced, UNO has exorcised its Beaver demons.
“Hopefully,” Jutting said. “They’re a team that plays hard and gritty, and to come on the road against a team we’ve struggled with the last few years ... it’s great to get two wins.”