GRAND FORKS, N.D. — A 7-1 exhibition win over Concordia University of Montreal could prove costly for the North Dakota Fighting Sioux.
Star sophomore center Zach Parise injured his left knee early in the second period and did not return to the game. The extent of the injury is unknown.
After the game, Parise said, “I just went down on it funny and heard a pop. I was going wide on the defenseman. I fell down and my knee pushed in funny. It just went a way it shouldn’t have gone. After it happened, I tried to go out for another shift and I couldn’t push off too well.
“Well find out Sunday or Monday what’s going on,” Parise said. “Hopefully, it’s nothing really bad. It’s a little stiff, a little tight, a little sore. It hurts to walk a little bit. To me, it doesn’t feel like anything too severe.”
Last season, Parise scored 61 points (26G, 35A) as a freshman and was a Hobey Baker finalist. This past summer, the Stanley Cup champion New Jersey Devils selected him in the first round of the NHL draft.
In a game that sometimes looked like one continuous North Dakota power play, the Sioux outshot the Stingers 58-9. Stellar goaltending by Concordia senior Philippe Ozga prevented the game from being more lopsided than it was.
Ozga kept the Sioux off the board until 11:44 of the first period when Parise scored off a rebound of forward Brandon Bochenski’s quick shot off a faceoff. The Stinger goalie continued to frustrate the Sioux and it looked as if Concordia could limit UND to one goal.
But the Sioux blew the game open before the end of the period with three goals in 45 seconds. Bochenski scored the first of his three goals when his sharp-angled shot from the bottom of the left circle and trickled through Ozga’s pads.
Just 21 seconds later, senior center David Lundbohm hit a streaking Bochenski with a pass that sent him in alone on Ozga. His shot hit the crossbar, bounced off the back of Ozga’s leg and was knocked in by a backchecking Stinger who ran into the goalie.
Junior center Colby Genoway gave the Sioux a comfortable four-goal lead at the end of the period. At the 19:07 mark, he got around the Concordia defense and beat Ozga five-hole.
Bochenski got the hat trick with a power-play goal at 18:41 of the second. After freshman forward Drew Stafford’s shot from the slot hit the crossbar and deflected straight down, Bochenski found the loose puck in the crease and batted it in.
“It’s a test for our discipline, playing a full 60 minutes,” Stafford said. “They’re not a bad team. They battled to the end. I thought we did a very good job of sticking with it and finishing them off.”
Sioux freshman goalie Nate Ziegelmann saw his first action of the season after replacing junior goalie Jake Brandt about half way through the second period.
In the third period, junior forward James Massen gave the Sioux a 6-0 lead with an unassisted goal. Concordia sophomore forward Yannick Noiseux got the Stingers on the board with a power play goal at 14:11. Freshman forward Chris Porter at 19:16 scored UND’s final goal.
“Phil Ozga is one of the premier goalies in Canadian university hockey,” Concordia coach Kevin Figsby said of his goalie, who stopped 51 of 58 shots, many of them quality scoring opportunities.
“I think we let him down a little bit tonight. He made the first save and we didn’t clear the rebound. But that’s just the speed and the strength of the North Dakota team. They’re one of the best hockey teams I’ve seen play at the university level,” he said.
Sioux coach Dean Blais thought the game showed that his team was making progress in the right direction. “We gained a lot of confidence moving the puck through the neutral zone,” he said. “We didn’t give them a whole lot of chances offensively. There weren’t a lot of 3-on-2 or 2-on-1 rushes our way.”
Figsby said that his team came to North Dakota this season in exchange for the Sioux playing in a tournament in Montreal next season. “We want to invite four of the top NCAA schools to play four of the top schools in Canada,” he said.
“We knew that we were into the second year of a rebuilding phase, so we weren’t sure what to expect with the players we recruited,” he noted. “We learned a lot. We saw a lot of things out there that we needed to see this early in the exhibition season for us to build toward our season. We won’t face any teams as good as North Dakota in our season this year.”