Chicago Blackhawks' prospect Nick Schmaltz scored with 56.8 seconds remaining in regulation Thursday to send North Dakota to a 4-2 win over NCHC conference foe Denver and a berth in the national championship game against Quinnipiac.
Brock Boeser, a Vancouver Canucks prospect, won a faceoff in Denver's zone then Schmaltz backhanded the goal into the net.
Drake Caggiula, who has been linked to Chicago, scored two second-period goals and Rhett Gardner potted an empty-netter for North Dakota. Denver's Will Butcher and Matt VanVoorhis scored in the third.
Schmaltz, who the Hawks drafted with the 20th overall pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, has 11 goals and 34 assists in 36 games for UND during his sophomore season. He has tallied one goal and two assists during the tournament.
But he isn't the only Hawks' prospect heading to the national championship game. Luke Johnson, a 2013 fifth-round pick, has scored two goals in the tournament, including the eventual game-winning goal against Northeastern in the opening round. He has 11 goals and 10 assists in 42 games during his junior season.
Johnson left the ice in the second period against Denver and did not return.
Luke Johnson was wearing a large brace on his left leg. Hard to believe that he'll be able to play on Saturday.— Brad E. Schlossman (@SchlossmanGF) April 8, 2016
The national championship game will be at 7:30 p.m. CT Saturday at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Fla. The game will shown on ESPN2.