PRINCETON, N.J. — Another North Dakota game, another win, another hat trick. No, it wasn’t from the stick of freshman star Zach Parise. Instead, it was sophomore Brandon Bochenski’s turn.
With all the attention focused on his rookie linemate, Bochenski must have figured he needed his second hat trick of the season to get some press himself. Parise merely settled for assisting on all five of North Dakota’s five goals as the No. 5 Fighting Sioux spoiled Princeton’s season opener, 5-2, in front of 1,715 at Hobey Baker Rink.
“The two just have a great chemistry together,” said North Dakota coach Dean Blais. “They are the classic playmaker-goal scorer combination that give and go and really use each other.”
Bochenski scored two late goals in the second period to secure the win for North Dakota. He snapped a 2-2 tie at 18:04 by banking a rebound off the back of Princeton goalie Nate Nomeland, who had contorted himself to stop Parise.
The hat trick came with just two seconds left in the period — a rifle off a Parise faceoff win that eluded Nomeland. The scoring outburst gives Bochenski nine goals on the season and increased Parise’s point total to 18.
“The two goals at the end of the second was the difference in the game for us,” Blais said. “We are not a team that gives up leads in the third period? I would like to get our other two lines going, however.”
The Tigers hung around far longer than many observers would have predicted. With 8:49 remaining in the second period, junior Chris Owen scored just the fifth goal of his career, but did so in grand fashion, faking the pass on a two-on-two rush and blasting one through the five-hole of North Dakota netminder Josh Siembida. Owen’s goal tied the game at two and created a brief spectre of upset before Bochenski-from-Parise extinguished that thought.
“We showed a lot of hustle tonight,” said Princeton coach Len Quesnelle. “We had spirit and we were very competitive, but we gave up too many shots and took some dumb penalties.”
Another factor that hurt the Tigers was the new 15 second faceoff rule. Playing in their first game of the season, Princeton was caught a little unprepared on North Dakota’s fourth goal.
“The goal at the end of the second really hurt us,” Quesnelle said. “We were not used to playing with the 15 second rule, as well as managing a short bench and we lost the faceoff because of it.”
The Tigers had to play with a short bench because captain George Parros went head first into the boards in front of the team bench during the second period and would not return. Fellow senior Neil McCann also left the game because of injury. Moreover, in the first period, senior winger Trevor Beaney received a game misconduct for hitting from behind. The infraction was just one of the 12 penalties whistled against the Tigers in a game that got particularly chippy in the third period, with both teams making the parade to the sin bin.
For all of the Tigers’ peskiness, the night belonged to Bochenski and Parise. Parise improved upon his already torrid 3.25 points per game average. He set up the first two Sioux goals on passes from behind the net. The first one, a nifty backhand to Bochenski came from the right side of Nomeland and tied the game at 1-1. The second was a forehand from Nomeland’s left, setting up Fylling in the slot at 17:08 of the first period to give the Sioux a 2-1 lead.
“I have not seen a freshman start his career like that. Never,” Blais said of Parise. “In three years, he may be having a date with Mr. Hobey, who knows? But I don’t want to put any pressure like that on him. He’s a kid who practices with great energy every day and loves to play.”
Princeton, however, was still pleased to give North Dakota such a tough game in its first full tilt of the new year. The Tigers are integrating five freshmen into their lineup and dressed five sophomores as well. After struggling to a 11-18-2 record last year, Quesnelle wanted to start this year with a crisp effort from his team.
One good sign was the play of sophomore forward Neil Stevenson-Moore. Stevenson-Moore, who is the second leading returning scorer on the team, registered the Tigers’ first goal of the year, banging home his own rebound off a wraparound at 1:20 of the first.
“Stevenson-Moore has the opportunity to be a big time goal scorer for us,” Quesnelle said. “He has a very deceptive shot and the goal he scored tonight was a result of him working hard.”
In addition, Nomeland had a strong start for the Tigers. Goaltending was a huge preseason question mark as neither of Princeton’s three netminders had done much before this season. Nomeland, a three-year backup from Fargo, N.D., made 36 saves.
“Nomeland played as well as he could, starting against the team from his home state,” Quesnelle said, but later added, “I have confidence in all three of my goalies.”
At the other end of the ice, Siembida stopped 20 shots
“This was a hard fought contest,” Blais said. “One line scored all of our goals for us, but Princeton battled and I was impressed with their positiong, a sign of a well coached team that should do better than preseason predictions.”
The win extended North Dakota’s season-opening five game winning streak. The Fighting Sioux will open their WCHA schedule next weekend at St. Cloud. Tomorrow, North Dakota continues its ECAC sojourn at the Yale Whale, while the Tigers look to earn their first win of the season against No. 11 Providence.