UND able to laugh about middle-of-the-night hotel fire after key win over Miami
OXFORD, Ohio — North Dakota retreated to the locker room after Friday night's 3-2 win over Miami University and cranked the speakers.
Sophomore defenseman Christian Wolanin was in charge of picking the song.
There was really only one option, though.
Wolanin blasted Billy Joel's 'We Didn't Start the Fire' — an ode to a crazy day in which the team was evacuated from their hotel during the wee hours of Friday morning because of a fire in a dryer on the fourth floor.
The players were awoken by piercing fire alarms at 12:30 a.m., thinking that someone had pulled it for no reason. Some joked that it was Miami coach Rico Blasi.
But after arriving outside, they saw six fire trucks pull up — many from surrounding cities. Firefighters extended a ladder to the fourth floor — where the coaching staff and several players were staying. The others were staying on the third floor.
The players and coaches spent a half an hour on the street in 25 degree temperatures wearing only sweatsuits before they tracked down the bus driver to start the bus. They spent another hour on the bus before they were told by a firefighter that they could return to their rooms.
But when they walked back up the stairs—the elevators were still closed down—smoke had filled the hallways. Some players shoved towels underneath their doors to keep the smoke out.
"Those are the things that sometimes bring a team a little closer together," UND coach Brad Berry said. "We made the best of an unfortunate situation."
The players — who routinely deal with overnight fire alarms at their Walsh Hall dormitory — responded just fine.
Freshman Ludvig Hoff scored on the power play, rookie Tyson Jost scored at even-strength and junior Trevor Olson buried the game-winner shorthanded to give UND a key come-from-behind win over Miami.
The victory was important on a number of fronts.
It put UND (17-14-3 overall, 10-12-1 NCHC) alone in fourth place with 32 points — one ahead of fifth-place St. Cloud State and three ahead of sixth-place Omaha.
The Fighting Hawks, who played without injured top-line winger Brock Boeser, can clinch home ice for the first round of the playoffs for a 15th straight season with a win in regulation, overtime, in three-on-three play or in a shootout at 6:05 p.m. tonight, because UND owns tiebreakers over both St. Cloud State and Omaha.
St. Cloud State closes the regular season with last-place Colorado College, while Omaha takes on Penrose Cup winner Denver.
Even more important, UND moved up to No. 13 in the Pairwise Rankings — which would put the team in position to reach the NCAA tournament.
"It was a must-needed win," Berry said. "Guys came into it with a business-like approach. We stayed with the game. On a couple of instances, we gave up opportunities off the rush and they capitalized. But our guys didn't panic. Guys stayed with the game and I thought we got better as the game went on."
UND outshot Miami badly — 41-16 shots on goal, 68-29 shot attempts — but needed to rally for the win.
Miami jumped to the early lead when Kiefer Sherwood finished off a Gordie Green feed at 7:38 of the first.
Hoff answered with 2:11 left in the opening frame, burying a rebound of a Chris Wilkie backhand to snap a 20-game goal drought.
"That felt really good," Hoff said. "It kind of helped my confidence a little bit. Wilks made an unreal play getting the puck down."
Green put Miami back in front midway through the second period, but UND used special teams to turn the game.
Just as a 4-on-3 power play expired, Jost snapped a shot from the high slot past the glove of Miami goalie Ryan Larkin (38 saves) to tie it 2-2 at 13:54.
Less than five minutes later, Miami defenseman Scott Dornbrock fumbled the puck at the point on the power play and Olson took it the other way and scored on a breakaway, snapping a wrist shot past Larkin's glove.
"It was huge, we finally played the way we wanted," UND goalie Cam Johnson said. "It was a great group effort. Guys were doing all the small things — boxing out, blocking shots. And we didn't get shut out, so that's always a positive."
And at the end of the night, UND was able to crack jokes about the hotel fire.
"We had some laughs and made the best of it," Hoff said. "Maybe somebody should pull the fire alarm again."