GRAND FORKS, N.D. — It was a tale of two lines in North Dakota’s 5-3 victory Saturday night over the visiting Niagara Purple Eagles.
Sioux freshman Zach Parise scored his second hat trick in four games the night after sophomore linemate Brandon Bochenski notched three goals against Niagara. While the young line of Parise, Bochenski and sophomore Quinn Fylling stole the show again, it was a line of seasoned veterans who got the Sioux off to a quick start.
North Dakota junior center David Lundbohm, skating with senior wings Jason Notermann and Kevin Spiewak, scored the first of his two goals less than three minutes into the opening period. Notermann found Lundbohm alone in the left faceoff circle and he rifled a wrist shot past Niagara freshman goalie Jeff VanNyatten.
The Purple Eagles answered with a power-play goal at 11:08 of the first period. When Sioux sophomore goalie Jake Brandt couldn’t control the rebound of Justin Cross’s slapshot from the point, Bernie Sigrist got his stick on the puck to chop it up and over the sprawling Brandt. The first period ended tied 1-1.
Lundbohm wasted no time getting the Sioux back on top. Just 35 seconds into the second period, Spiewak’s pass sprung Notermann and Lundbohm on a two-on-one rush. Notermann faked the shot, then dished the puck to Lundbohm, who beat VanNynatten with a backhand.
In his third year of playing with Spiewak and Notermann, Lundbohm said the three veterans work well together and can contribute both offensively and defensively. “We know where were at,” he said. “We’re older and know what it takes to win.”
The Sioux took control of the game in the second period with two goals by Parise a minute and a half apart. The first came at the 2:30 mark when sophomore defenseman Nick Fuher sent Parise in one-on-one. Using his body to protect the puck, he cut inside the defenseman and tucked the puck under VanNyatten.
After the Sioux increased their lead to 3-1, Niagara coach Dave Burkholder replaced VanNyatten with junior goalie Rob Bonk. The result wasn’t much different.
With North Dakota on the power play, Bonk went down to stop a shot, but couldn’t control the rebound. Fylling chipped the puck out from behind the net to Parise, who got the bouncing puck under control and whacked at it a few times before getting it across the line. His second goal of the game came at 4:01.
“It was a good pass by Quinn right in front of the net,” Parise said. “I had to stop it with my skate. The first one whiffed, the second one got it going a little bit and the third one finally tapped it in.”
Down by three goals, Niagara refused to give up. Just 46 seconds after North Dakota scored, sophomore center Barrett Ehgoetz netted a power-play goal for the Purple Eagles to close the margin to 4-2 at the end of the second period.
Less than a minute into the final period, Niagara sophomore center Matt Ryan put away a rebound off a blast by junior forward Joe Tallari. With the lead cut to one goal, North Dakota coach Dean Blais replaced Brandt with sophomore goalie Josh Siembida.
While the Sioux have gone four straight games limiting opponents to under 20 shots on goal, Blais says it’s a stat that doesn’t always work in a goalie’s favor.
“It’s hard when you don’t get that many shots,” he said. “A goaltender likes 10 shots a period to keep involved in the game.”
Parise restored North Dakota’s two-goal lead with his third goal of the game at 13:40. Sophomore defenseman Andy Schneider connected on a long pass that sent him alone down the right side. He faked the pass and then beat Bonk with a shot from near the right faceoff dot.
“He was the difference tonight,” Burkholder said of the Sioux freshman. “One of their top players stepped up last night and Parise did it tonight. His last goal — he was so animated with his hands — he showed pass, brought it back, showed pass again and then he buried it on Rob. That’s a pretty special talent.”
Blais credited Niagara for giving the Sioux a battle.
“They made us work for everything we got and I didn’t feel comfortable until we got the fifth goal and a two-goal lead,” he said. “They’re very opportunistic, they’ve got enough talent on two lines to be very dangerous on the power play and they’re well-coached.”
Despite Niagara’s 2-6 record, Burkholder says, “We’re not frustrated. I would say this weekend, overall, the better team won. They made plays when they had to make plays. But the good news is that we didn’t quit.”