GRAND FORKS, N.D. — The Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves did something that no other team has done this season — they held North Dakota standout freshman Zach Parise without a point for a series.
However, UAA coach John Hill would probably be willing to trade some Parise points for some points in the WCHA standings as the Fighting Sioux (9-1, 3-1 WCHA) swept the Seawolves (1-7-2, 0-5-1) with a 1-0 win at Engelstad Arena on Saturday.
At 6:31 of the first period, UND senior forward Kevin Spiewak scored on the power play, the only goal the Sioux needed. Sophomore defenseman Andy Schneider went to his knees to hold the puck in the zone, then batted it to Spiewak. He neatly stickhandled to the side of the net and tucked a shot in behind Reiter.
“I don’t get chances like that too often,” Spiewak said. “I was lucky that the move actually worked and I got the goal.”
The Seawolves received some help from referee Robin Anderson to keep Parise off the score sheet. With the Sioux clinging to a one-goal lead nine minutes into the third period, Parise fired a hard shot that handcuffed goalie Kevin Reiter, who never got control of the puck. It had enough momentum to trickle through and across the line.
Although the goal light came on, Anderson immediately waved off the goal, explaining that he’d lost sight of the puck and blown the whistle before it crossed the line.
“I don’t think that the disallowed goal did anything but fire the team up and fire the crowd up. It was a shot of adrenaline for everyone,” said North Dakota coach Dean Blais.
“Robin said he blew the whistle, so if he blew the whistle, then that was the right call for him to make,” Blais said. “Our guys didn’t go into a shell. They weren’t rattled. They just played harder and tried to protect a 1-0 lead.”
Even when Hill pulled Reiter for an extra attacker in the last minute of play, the Sioux prevented UAA from getting any quality chances to tie the game.
“Tonight, I felt better with a one-goal lead through the whole game than I did last night with a two-goal lead,” Blais said of his team’s defensive effort, backstopped by sophomore goalie Jake Brandt’s second shutout of the season.
Brandt was not only happy to earn the shutout by stopping all 22 of the shots he faced, but also getting it on home ice.
“I haven’t played well at home — ever — so it was fun to play well at home,” he said.
After a subpar performance against Niagara at home, Blais sat Brandt for five games. But against UAA, Blais pronounced the goalie’s effort “rock solid.”
“I was trying to do too much,” Brandt said. “I talked with my dad and he said I played better when I keep things simple. I tried to just do the basics. I stayed in the net and stopped the puck. That’s basically what goaltending is.”
The bright spot for the Seawolves was a second outstanding performance by Reiter, who turned back 35 of the 36 shots he faced, several of them high-quality opportunities.
“Once again, Kevin kept the game tight and gave us a chance to try to salvage a point, but we were unable to muster up any offense,” Hill said.
“We have a young team. I think we’re going to be okay. We’re headed in the right direction. We just need to get some production from our older guys. Unfortunately, we’re not getting any.”
Of UAA’s ability to shut down Parise, Hill said, “I have a feeling this isn’t going to be a regular occurrence. Even though he didn’t get a point, he was certainly someone to be reckoned with out there.
“Personally, I hope he keeps having success so he can get drafted high and get out of here,” he said smiling.