GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Understandably, Michigan Tech coach Mike Sertich wasn’t in much of a talking mood after his Huskies lost 8-0 to North Dakota at Ralph Engelstad Arena.
The one topic he was willing to discuss at length was how avalanches are caused. MTU was buried under a blizzard of Sioux goals midway through the second period when UND scored five times in under five minutes.
“I would have to say the avalanche started on the first turnover on the first goal,” he said, referring to Sioux sophomore’s forward Rory McMahon’s unassisted goal just 1:08 into the first period. MTU goalie Cam Ellsworth attempted to clear the puck up the slot, but it was intercepted by McMahon, who shoveled in the gift.
The Sioux held a 2-0 lead at the end of the first period, thanks to sophomore defenseman Andy Schneider’s power-play goal at the 9:46 mark.
The Huskies stayed with the Sioux in the second period until freshman Zach Parise scored on the power play at 8:43. That was followed by UND senior defenseman Chris Leinweber’s goal at 10:52; sophomore forward Brandon Bochenski’s 29th goal of the season at 12:06; Parise’s 22nd goal of the season at 12:27; and sophomore forward Quinn Fylling’s coast-to-coast goal at 12:57.
“Sometimes avalanches take a while to build up speed. They don’t just happen. It’s a process because of gravity,” Sertich explained. “An avalanche is a microcosm of problems already in existence. You create more problems and then the avalanche begins.”
After providing even more details on geophysics, Sertich deadpanned, “I go to a technological university.”
The Sioux closed out the scoring at 10:04 of the third period when sophomore forward James Massen fired in a hard wrist shot that beat MTU goalie Rick Cazares, who had replaced Ellsworth in the second period.
Sioux sophomore goalie Josh Siembida picked up his first shutout ever in the 28 games he’s played for UND. He also became the third Sioux goalie this season to record a shutout, the first time in team history that three goalies have had shutouts in the same season.
North Dakota coach Dean Blais credited Siembida’s performance to help from volunteer coach Craig Perry, a former UND goalie who’s been working with him for the past few weeks.
“I can’t say enough about him,” Siembida said of Perry. “He’s helped me so much just to simplify the game. ‘Break your game down,’ that’s what he’s told me. It worked today. Hopefully it will work tomorrow.”
Besides MTU, another victim of the Sioux avalanche is the notion that Parise has trouble scoring in the WCHA. In the seven league games he’s played since returning from the World Junior Championships in Halifax, Nova Scotia, the freshman has nine goals and four assists. He says the experience helped him improve.
“Those guys are so skilled out there that I think it’s slowed down the game here for me,” he says. “It’s made me feel a lot more comfortable with the puck and gave me a lot of confidence.”
After being swept last weekend by Colorado College, Blais was pleased with the way his team bounced back and how the players responded to the absence of junior defenseman and assistant captain David Hale, who’s out of the lineup while recovering from an illness.
“You never know how that’s going to work out. After getting beat twice, you wonder if your team’s licking its wounds a little bit or if they’re so down it’s hard to get up,” he said. “But I thought the guys played hard out there, and that’s all we ask.”
The Sioux outshot the Huskies 32-16 and were 2-for-6 on the power play. They improved their record to 22-4-3 overall (12-4-3 WCHA). MTU is 8-15-4 overall and 5-11-3 WCHA. The two teams meet Saturday at 7:05 p.m. in Engelstad Arena for the second game of the series.