MANKATO, Minn. — After North Dakota was swept at St. Cloud two weeks ago, the Sioux had a week off and a lot of time to think about what had happened. So when they resumed play two weeks later in Mankato, they had one goal: get a good start.
The Sioux not only had a good start, they dominated the first period, scoring three goals en route to a 6-3 road victory over Minnesota State University.
North Dakota got six goals from different players and sturdy goaltending from senior Andy Kollar to cap the performance.
“We got beat two weeks ago by St. Cloud, and we have a lot of pride,” said UND head coach Dean Blais. “And we knew playing four games against Mankato, we had to establish something, and that was work strong. Win, lose, draw, or whatever, we had to come out and work strong.”
The Sioux got on the board early off a goal by sophomore David Lundbohm. Junior Ryan Bayda brought the puck down the left side on the UND rush. Bayda found Lundbohm streaking down the slot and slid the puck to his teammate. Lundbohm deflected the pass between MSU goaltender Jon Volp’s legs for his fifth goal of the year.
The Sioux doubled their score only 45 seconds later. Freshmen Chris Fournier and Brandon Bochenski played give-and-go as North Dakota swarmed the MSU net. Bochenski found the puck in the slot and fired a rising backhand shot that beat Volp stick-side to put the Fighting Sioux up 2-0. The two goals took the air out of the crowd of 3,624.
“The first goal is huge in any game,” said Blais. “We scored two of them and that’s a bonus.”
North Dakota scored on two of its first five shots in the game.
North Dakota’s dominance of the first period continued as they peppered Volp with shot after shot. They got their third goal of the game 14:27 into the period.
After several closely missed chances by the Sioux, Fournier gave North Dakota a three-goal pad with his first collegiate tally. The freshman from Anchorage, Alaska, found the puck behind the net and made a wraparound play on the right side of the goal. Fournier took the puck on his forehand and put it past Volp and into the left side of the net.
“About time,” Fournier joked. “I haven’t scored a goal since last year. I kind of forgot what it was like. Bochenski made a great play in the corner and took two guys with him so I could just walk out. I was the happiest guy in the building, I can tell you that.”
MSU’s best pressure in the first ended with a brilliant save by Kollar. On a two-on-one rush, senior Nate Mauer slid the puck to teammate Jerry Cunningham in the slot. Cunningham missed the goal, but he darted behind the net and found the puck in time to feed left winger Josh Kern. Kern, streaking straight in on net, fired a one-timer from ten feet out, but Kollar made a spectacular save and allowed no rebound to keep MSU off the scoreboard.
After a dismal performance in the first period, things only got worse for the Mavericks in the second. Volp came up limping after contact with a skater in the first period, and he re-aggravated his injury in the beginning of the second period. According to MSU head coach Troy Jutting, Volp removed himself from the game to be replaced by sophomore Jason Jensen. Jutting was uncertain of the extent of Volp’s injury.
MSU’s goaltending picture was bleak coming into the game. Wednesday Minnesota State discovered that senior goaltender Eric Pateman was lost for the season with a shoulder injury. Volp, a freshman, had been the starter ever since Pateman’s loss, with Jensen backing him up.
With Jensen replacing Volp, the Sioux took it to the new goaltender and scored a power-play goal 5:28 into the period. Enjoying a 5-on-3 advantage, the goal came directly off a faceoff win in the Maverick zone.
Bochenski won the draw back to Aaron Schneekloth, who passed the puck over to defenseman Chad Mazurak at the right point. Mazurak fired a hard slapshot on goal that hit Jensen’s glove, bounced in the air, and dropped into the net behind Jensen. The goal gave the Sioux a 4-0 lead.
MSU finally came to life halfway through the period as Tim Jackman beat Kollar with a wrist shot from the right faceoff circle. After Kollar and Maverick forward B.J. Abel collided in the UND crease, Jackman found the puck and threw it into the net for his sixth goal of the year.
But North Dakota reacted to the goal the best way possible — by scoring a goal of its own. Jason Notermann got the puck on the left side and blasted it past Jensen to tally his third goal of the season.
MSU’s attempted a comeback with Dana Sorenson scoring at the end of the second period and Jerry Cunningham putting the puck past Kollar again at 15:25 of the third. However, Kollar and the Fighting Sioux defense played tough throughout the game, and Bayda added an empty-net tally to complete the 6-3 victory.
Fournier credited UND’s quick start to a good week of practice. “We were still a little bitter about our last series against St. Cloud two weeks ago. This last week of practice has been real intense, real crisp. And the older guys told us we have to start from the get-go. And that’s what we did. That was our best first period the year.”
Mazurak, the team captain, agreed.
“One of our keys is, and has been all year, to get a good start. Get the first goal, but more importantly make our presence felt. We did that tonight and it was a result of a good game overall by us.”
On the wrong side of the quick start, Jutting was upset with his team’s performance in the first, something he called “embarrassing.”
“They came out like gangbusters and we watched them play. I thought we played better in the second and third periods, but not good enough. You don’t come out and play twenty minutes of hockey like we did to start the game and expect to win. I’m very disappointed.”
The game was an important one for both teams. Not only are both squads battling for WCHA points, but they also play each other three more times in the next two weeks. After Saturday night’s tilt, which starts at 7:05, the teams have a week off and then head to Grand Forks, N.D., for a rematch series.
“There’s going to be a lot to remember,” said Mazurak. “We want to go out there and get a win tomorrow night, and more importantly play well and get on track. Hopefully we’ll see them in our rink and do the same thing to them again.”