GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Sometimes a game’s final score doesn’t tell the whole story.
“A thorough butt-whoopin’” was how Alaska-Anchorage coach John Hill categorized the Seawolves’ 4-2 loss to North Dakota at Engelstad Arena on Friday night.
“I thought for 60 minutes, they took it to us in all facets of the game. They outskated us, outhustled us and outhit us. We hardly mustered 10 shots on goal,” he said. “I thought they put on a clinic when it came to forechecking. They also played the body well in the defensive zone.”
How did Hill explain the game’s narrow two-goal difference?
“If Kevin Reiter doesn’t have the game he has tonight, it could be a double-digit score,” he said of his junior goaltender’s performance.
Although the Sioux outshot the Seawolves 37-12 and created numerous scoring opportunities, they came away with little to show for it because of big saves by Reiter.
For the first 21 minutes, the Sioux dominated while cruising to a 3-0 lead. Junior forward Ryan Hale opened the scoring at 1:58 of the first period when he pounded in a loose puck during a battle in front of the UAA net. At 6:51, sophomore forward Brandon Bochenski scored his 11th goal of the season in a similar manner.
Just 41 seconds into the second period, UND capitalized on a 5-on-3 power play. Sophomore defenseman Nick Fuher caught Reiter looking the wrong way and rifled a wrist shot past him from the top of the right circle to give the Sioux a commanding 3-0 lead.
But UAA stayed in the game by taking advantage of a 5-on-3 power play to cut UND’s lead to 3-1 at the 8:36 mark of the second period. Freshman defenseman Matt Hanson’s low blast from above the left faceoff circle got past Sioux sophomore goalie Josh Siembida.
The only blemish on Reiter’s performance was the costly mistake he made in the third period that put UND up 4-1 at 12:42. Leaving the crease to play the puck, he attempted to loft it out of the zone, straight up the slot. UND sophomore forward Rory McMahon alertly knocked the puck down with his glove at the blue line and fired it into the vacated net.
“I don’t think he saw me coming through the middle,” McMahon said. “I just happened to be the lucky guy who got the big Christmas present. All I was thinking in my head was ‘Don’t miss…don’t miss…don’t miss.’”
Still, the Seawolves refused to go away. With 2:14 left in the final period, a pair of freshmen teamed up to make it a 4-2 game. UAA wing Brent McMann sprang center Curtis Glencross on a pass to the Sioux blue line that sent him in alone to score on Siembida. But the Seawolves would come no closer.
“We carried the play. We carried the game. They were always in the game,” said UND coach Dean Blais. “I didn’t feel comfortable that we were going to win the game until it went 4-1.”
UAA and UND play the second game of the series at 7:05 p.m. Saturday at Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks.