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Jackson Blake's five-point night leads UND past Minnesota Duluth

Feb. 23—GRAND FORKS — If UND wanted to show last weekend was an anomaly, it didn't waste any time Friday night.

Cameron Berg drew a penalty on the first shift.

Jackson Blake scored a power-play on the second shift.

UND was up by two goals before Minnesota Duluth recorded a shot and the Fighting Hawks went on to hand the Bulldogs their worst loss in this U.S. Highway 2 rivalry series in the last 19 years.

UND won 6-0 over Minnesota Duluth in front of an announced crowd of 11,670 in Ralph Engelstad Arena.

The last time UND beat the Bulldogs that bad was March 11, 2005, in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association playoffs. UND won that game 8-2.

"I think we played really well as a team," UND goalie Ludvig Persson said. "Obviously, last weekend was really disappointing and I really felt we came out strong, controlled the game and guys played unreal in front of me."

Blake was the star of the night.

The UND sophomore finished with five points, becoming the first Fighting Hawks player to rack up that many in a game since Collin Adams in the 2021 NCHC playoffs. Blake scored once and set Cameron Berg for two goals, Riese Gaber for one and Owen McLaughlin for one.

Freshman Jayden Perron scored UND's other goal, breaking a 10-game drought.

"I just think we played the right way tonight," Blake said. "We were focusing on that. If you play the right way, you're going to get rewarded."

Blake is up to 45 points on the season, fourth nationally behind Boston College's Gabe Perreault (50), Boston Colllege's Will Smith (49) and Boston University's Macklin Celebrini (47).

"He's unreal every night," Persson said "I'm just glad to have him on our team."

Blake is emerging as a serious contender for the Hobey Baker Award. Only two UND players have ever won it before — Tony Hrkac in 1987 and Ryan Duncan in 2007. Duncan will be in the building skating 'One More Shift' before Saturday's series finale.

"That guy is always doing something crazy," defenseman Keaton Pehrson said of Blake. "Special player. Five points is an unreal night. So, it's good to see that from him."

It was a big bounce-back weekend for UND after being outscored 13-3 in a pair of losses at Colorado College last weekend.

"That was huge after how many goals we gave up last weekend," Pehrson said. "Loved it. It was a whole team effort. Forwards were great blocking shots, the 'D' were good. We didn't overhandle the puck and we got it out of our zone quick, which was awesome."

UND took a three-point lead ahead of St. Cloud State atop the NCHC standings with five games to go. Third-place Colorado College and Denver are seven points back.

The Fighting Hawks (21-8-2) won the series opener in every facet.

They outshot Minnesota Duluth 29-17. With five minutes remaining in the second period, UND had five goals, the Bulldogs had six shots.

UND held the nation's fourth-leading goal-scorer, Ben Steeves, without a goal. Minnesota Duluth is now 1-12-1 when Steeves doesn't score, including 12-straight losses.

UND won the special teams battle, going 2-for-5 on the power play and holding the Bulldogs scoreless on both of their chances.

Persson posted a 17-save shutout and extended his scoreless streak against the Bulldogs to 125:16.

"I thought everybody, to a man, brought their 'A' game tonight," UND coach Brad Berry said. "We made a point of defending Luddy in front of our net. That was a point of emphasis on both ends of the rink as far as being in the house."

UND is now 7-1 in the last eight against Minnesota Duluth and has outscored the Bulldogs 12-2 in three games this season.

"That was huge after how many goals we gave up last weekend," Pehrson said. "Loved it. It was a whole team effort. Forwards were great blocking shots, the 'D' were good. We didn't overhandle the puck and we got it out of our zone quick, which was awesome."

Blake has now taken charge of the NCHC scoring race, too.

He has 30 points in league play. Denver defenseman Zeev Buium is five back at 25. Berg is tied for third with Denver forward Massimo Rizzo and Western Michigan forward Luke Grainger (23).

"We've been waiting to play at home for almost the last month," Blake said. "After getting swept by CC, we were just itching to play. We got it done tonight."

Notes: UND forward Hunter Johannes practiced this week but wasn't ready to go and was held out of the series opener. Defenseman Keaton Pehrson, who suffered an injury last Saturday, played on the second pairing. . . Minnesota Duluth played without forwards Dominic James (season-ending shoulder injury), Connor McMenamin (day-to-day) and Cole Spicer (ineligible).