GRAND FORKS, N.D. — In a mid-season exhibition game two years ago, the University of Manitoba Bison lost in overtime to the Frozen Four-bound North Dakota Fighting Sioux.
The 2002 Sioux would have none of that. Hoping to take back the home-ice advantage that eluded them last season, UND skated to a convincing 6-1 exhibition victory over the Bison at Engelstad Arena.
“I don’t think there was anyone who was really weak tonight,” said UND coach Dean Blais. “I thought everyone played a pretty good game. We had probably half our team that played excellent.”
For the third consecutive game, the Sioux held the opposition to under 20 shots on goal, outshooting the Bison 38-18. Five different players netted goals, including two by 6-foot-2-inch, 219-pound sophomore forward James Massen.
In his first home game, freshman forward Zach Parise wasted little time impressing the 7,131 fans present. At the 5:21 mark of the first period — just 12 seconds into the first Sioux power play — Parise one-timed a cross-ice pass from junior forward David Lundbohm past Bison goalie Jomar Cruz to give UND a 1-0 lead.
Less than a minute and a half later, Massen put the Sioux up 2-0 when he skated into the Bison zone one-on-one, bulled his way around a defenseman and flipped a backhand past Cruz.
At 3:32 of the second period, sophomore wing Colby Genoway, another player making his debut for the Sioux, scored to make it a 3-0 game. On a delayed Manitoba penalty, the Sioux caught the Bison in a bad line change, enabling Genoway to skate in on Cruz unopposed, make a deke and flip in a backhand.
With the Sioux on the power play, junior forward Ryan Hale put UND up 4-0 at 17:40 of the second period when he stuffed in the rebound off senior forward Jason Notermann’s shot.
After Sioux goalies Jake Brandt and Ryan Sofie saw only two and five shots, respectively, in the period each played, sophomore Josh Siembida came in for the third period to stop 10 of the 11 shots he faced.
Manitoba’s lone goal came on the power play at 3:19 of the third period. Senior defenseman Barrett Labossiere shot from the point through a screen and the puck found its way past Siembida.
Despite that, Siembida made two spectacular saves when turnovers in the Sioux zone allowed Bison forwards to walk in alone on the UND goalie.
“When the game was on the line, I wanted Siembida in there. He’s got to be able to play in pressure situations and I thought he did well,” Blais said.
Sioux sophomore wing Brandon Bochenski, last season’s WCHA rookie of the year, put UND up 5-1 when he scored unassisted 4-on-4 at 10:45. Bochenski picked up the puck in the neutral zone and wove his way through Manitoba defenders before firing a wrist shot past Bison goalie Gord Woodhall.
Massen put the final nail in Manitoba’s coffin at 15:46 of the third period with his second goal. He got his stick off a feed from junior forward Tyler Palmiscno and roofed the puck into the top corner.
“Palmiscno threw one out front for me,” Massen said. “I just pulled it out, shot it up far side and had a lot of net to work with. It doesn’t hurt being tall and having long arms.”
Blais expects similar performances this season from the sophomore forward.
“He’s one of the guys we’re looking at to step up this year and have maybe 10-15 goals,” he said.
Although the exhibition game means nothing in the polls, the stats or the standings, Massen said that winning the first home game of the season in the $100 million Engelstad Arena is important to the team.
“In a building like this, you have to be successful,” he said. “We have to take back the home-ice advantage that was such an important tool in the old building.”