ORONO, Maine — North Dakota broke open a 1-1 tie in the second period with a pair of goals 42 seconds apart and junior netminder Andy Kollar made it stand up as the Fighting Sioux skated to a 4-2 victory over Maine.
The win improved North Dakota’s record to 1-0-3 while Maine dropped to 0-1-1.
Senior center Jeff Panzer scored twice in the pivotal second, including a power-play tally late that re-established a two-goal margin for North Dakota.
Kollar made 43 stops en route to the Fighting Sioux’s first victory of the season.
“I have to give credit to my defense,” Kollar said. “They cleared most of the rebounds quickly and kept their forwards tied up.”
The critical point in the game came seven minutes into the second period with the game deadlocked, 1-1. In a battle behind the Maine net, Ryan Bayda collected the puck and quickly swept a pass into the slot. Panzer, skating through, one-timed the feed past a helpless Matt Yeats (26 saves), giving the Sioux a 2-1 lead.
“That play was all Ryan,” said Panzer. “He did the work and put the puck on my tape. I just flipped it as soon as I could.”
Less than a minute later, a couple of Sioux blueliners combined for the game-winning goal. Chad Mazurak corralled a Maine clearing attempt at the left point and fired on the Maine goal. Yeats stopped his slap shot, but Aaron Schneekloth batted in the rebound over Yeats shoulder for a two-goal lead.
“Thats what you get when you don’t play good defense,” Maine forward Martin Kariya said. “We just didn’t play well defensively that whole period and it cost us.”
The Black Bears responded midway through the second to cut the margin to one. With Maine on the power play, Lucas Lawson took a Peter Metcalf feed in the Maine defensive zone and made a spectacular rush down the left-wing boards. Lawson took a hard angle from the circle and Schneekloth fell down. Lawson stayed patient and buried a backhander, cutting the lead to 3-2.
“They have some big forwards,” Kollar said. “When you see big, you usually think slow, but not these guys, they can fly.”
Three minutes after Lawson’s goal, Black Bear defenseman Doug Janik was whistled for interference. The penalty created a 4-on-3 power play for the Sioux. Eleven seconds into the man advantage, North Dakota regained its two-goal lead and the momentum.
“That was a great play by Travis (Roche),” Panzer said. “He kept that puck in the zone and got it to Bryan (Lundbohm). Bryan made a great pass.”
Lundbohm skated down the slot and found Panzer on the left side of the net. Panzer swept the puck past Yeats to the short side to complete the evening’s scoring.
“I had to stay with the guy in the slot,” Yeats said. “He made a quick pass and I just couldn’t get over in time.”
Forward Tyler Palmiscno staked the Sioux to a 1-0 lead just over four mintues into the first, poking a loose puck by Yeats from a scramble in front. Kariya answered with an electrifying rush at the midway point of the period, beating the North Dakota defense and roofing a backhander over Kollar to the short side.
Black Bear captain A.J. Begg said he thought Maine lacked the jump they’d had the previous evening when the teams battled to a 1-1 tie.
“We just didn’t come out with the same intensity,” Begg said. “It’s the first game and all, so that’s kind of expected, but we have to get the message out around here that intensity is required every night.”
Maine forward Kevin Clausen noted the Fighting Sioux made some adjustments over the weekend.
“I think we surprised them with our size and speed last night,” Clausen said. “Tonight, they were ready for us and seemed to get to the puck quicker.”
Mattias Trattnig, a Black Bear captain, said Maine has to start burying its chances. “We got another 40 plus shot night and have very little to show for it,” he said.
Panzer, asked if the team was frustrated by its lack of scoring chances over the weekend, took the high road. “We’ve played some great teams so far this year,” said Panzer, referring to other games with New Hampshire and Michigan. “We’ve also been playing pretty well. So I cant say I’m frustrated. I’m quite happy to get a win here, it’s a tough place to play.”
Maine will stay home this week and play the U.S. Developmental Squad in the first round of the Black Bear Classic on Friday. North Dakota will host Michigan Tech in a two-game set to open its conference schedule.