GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) - The first National Collegiate Hockey Conference race will come down to the final day.
North Dakota scored goals 18 seconds apart in the second period Friday and went on to beat Western Michigan 2-0. With the win, UND remained locked in a tie with St. Cloud State for first place in the NCHC race with one game remaining. If both teams win Saturday, they will share the Penrose Cup and UND will be the top seed in the upcoming conference tournament by virtue of having more conference wins.
"That's what we're down to," North Dakota coach Dave Hakstol said. "A final game, one last time and Senior Night tomorrow night."
Ninth-ranked UND (20-10-3, 15-8-0) reached the 20-win plateau for the 10th straight year. Hakstol has never won fewer than 20 games in a season and he is the only active coach with 20 wins in 10 straight years.
"We hope for 21 tomorrow," Hakstol said.
Stephane Pattyn and Luke Johnson scored just 18 seconds apart to snap a scoreless tie late in the second period.
"The two goals at the end of the period were obviously big goals, maybe in large part because it rewarded us for a pretty good period," Hakstol said. "We didn't have anything to show for us on the scoreboard."
North Dakota was 1-for-6 with a man advantage, while the Broncos went 0-for-4.
Goaltenders Zane Gothberg of North Dakota and Lukas Hafner of Western Michigan battled to a scoreless tie through the first 37 minutes of the game.
The duel came to a quick end late in the second period when North Dakota scored twice in 18 seconds. Both goals were reviewed and upheld.
Stephane Pattyn broke the tie with a redirected shot into the net at 17:21, and Luke Johnson blasted the puck past Hafner at 17:39.
Pattyn's goal was UND's first in four power-play chances in the second period. Camped in front of the net, Pattyn redirected the shot by Paul LaDue top shelf. Johnson's goal was a simple wrister that also was high. Both goals were reviewed.
Rocco Grimaldi extended his point-scoring streak to six games with an assist. Western Michigan (16-14-5, 10-11-2) goalie Lukas Hafner finished with 33 saves.
UND is 8-0-0 all-time versus Western Michigan. North Dakota goes into the regular season finale with 16 wins in its last 20 games.