GRAND FORKS -- The University of North Dakota is headed back to the Twin Cities.
Nick Jones scored 53 seconds into overtime, banking a shot off the back of Omaha goalie Evan Weninger to give the Fighting Hawks a 4-3 victory over the Mavericks, Saturday night, march 10, and earn another trip to the Twin Cities.
UND will play next weekend in St. Paul's Xcel Energy Center.
It's the 16th-straight year that UND has won a first-round league playoff series and reached the Twin Cities.
It's a string that started in 2003. That run has spanned two venue changes and a conference change from the Western Collegiate Hockey Association to the NCHC.
The winning goal was the second of the game for Jones and his 14th of the season.
Matt Kiersted and Dixon Bowen scored UND's other goals.
For the ninth time in the span of 13 games, UND built a 2-0 lead. And for the sixth time in that stretch, the Fighting Hawks gave it up.
The Fighting Hawks first got on the board at 10:13, moments after Cole Smith fanned on a backdoor attempt on a three-on-two rush. After Smith's shot went wide, UND's forwards dug pucks out of the corner until it got to Kiersted at the right point.
Kiersted hammered a shot off the right post, but the rebound hit Omaha goalie Evan Weninger in the back and trickled across the goal line before he could pull it out.
UND added to the lead at 14:05 when Trevor Olson threaded a stretch pass from inside the defensive zone to Bowen at the offensive blue line. Bowen flew up the right side, skated across the crease and scored on his backhand to snap a 15-game goal drought. It was his first goal since Nov. 11 at home against Miami.
Omaha was able to cut into the deficit before the end of the period when defenseman Lukas Buchta threw a shot from the right point that hit forward Teemu Pulkkinen, who was standing on top of the crease, and deflected past Johnson.
That goal ended Omaha's scoreless drought against Johnson at 145:55. Johnson had posted back-to-back shutouts against the Mavericks, who are one of the country's top-10 scoring offenses.
The Mavericks evened it at 5:25 of the second period, moments after a Hayden Shaw penalty expired.
Pulkkinen had the puck at the inside of the left circle and before Shaw even stepped out of the box, he wristed a shot through traffic past Johnson's glove.
It marked the sixth time in 13 games that UND gave up its 2-0 lead. It happened six times in seven weekends, starting with a game at Minnesota Duluth. UND also gave up 2-0 leads at home against Denver, at Omaha, at Miami, at home against St. Cloud State and on Saturday night against Omaha.
The Mavericks took their first lead of the series at 5:41 of the third period, when David Pope's wide shot on a two-on-one rush created chaos. Tyler Vesel pulled the long rebound off the end wall into the crease, where UND players dove to block it. After Pope whiffed on a chance and Riley Alferd had one blocked, Jake Randolph finally put it away to make it 3-2.
The Fighting Hawks evened it up on the power play, though.
With Vesel in the box for boarding, Colton Poolman launched a point shot to the top of the crease, where Jones re-directed it past Weninger with 9:46 to go.
Notes: Johnson made his 100th-career start in net for UND. He's the sixth goalie in program history to reach 100 games ... UND defenseman Andrew Peski left the game in the second period with an injury and didn't return.