GRAND FORKS, N.D. — North Dakota’s Fighting Sioux exploded for four unanswered goals in the first six minutes of the final period to down the visiting Boston College Eagles 6-4.
For two periods, the Eagles looked very much like the top-ranked team in the nation, playing against fourth-ranked UND. BC jumped out to a 2-0 lead with two power-play goals in the first period.
“You can see why they’re the number-one team in the country the way they started,” said UND coach Dean Blais. “I was almost cheering for them the way they were playing.”
BC’s first goal came on a 5-on-4 power play at 10:11 of the opening period. Junior defenseman Greg Lauze one-timed a feed from sophomore forward Stephen Gionta past Sioux freshman goalie Jordan Parise.
With the Eagles on a 5-on-3 power play, BC senior center Ben Eaves found freshman forward Brian Boyles camped in front of the net. His quick wrister put the Eagles up 2-0 at 15:48.
“After the first period, we said, ‘We have to stay out of the box on these guys. They are way too skilled and way too good,’” said Sioux captain Andy Schneider.
Just 36 seconds into the second period, Ben Eaves gave BC a commanding 3-0 lead when he stuffed in Voce’s cross-crease pass.
“When they got up three-nothing, it could have been game over, but our guys stayed with it and fought back,” Blais said.
At 11:11 of the second period, Sioux junior forward Quinn Fylling got UND on the board when his wrist shot from the bottom of the left circle beat BC goalie Matti Kaltiainen short side.
The Sioux cut BC’s lead to one goal at 15:59 on a fluke play. Junior defenseman Schneider tried to chip the puck in deep, but the puck was deflected and went on goal. Eagles defenseman J.D. Forrest had UND forward Brandon Bochenski tied up in front of the net, but the puck hit the Sioux forward’s skate and got past Kaltiainen.
Bochenski said he saw the puck coming and turned his skate to deflect it. “I turned my foot, but I didn’t kick at it. It was legal,” he said.
“A shot came, it hit one thing and then I guess it hit a skate and went into the net. I thought I had him tied up pretty good, but what can you do when it bounces in off a skate?” Forrest said.
With the home crowd of 10,397 into the game, Forrest put a damper on UND’s rally with a goal 26 seconds later. He fired Ben Eaves’ centering pass from along the boards past Parise to put the Eagles back on top 4-2.
“I was just trailing the play, something I do, coming up a little bit late,” Forrest said. “Ben’s got eyes in the back of his head. I looked right at him, he looked at me and just fed it to me. I just shot it as quick as I could and the goalie couldn’t get over there in time.”
Just 29 seconds into the third period, the Sioux served notice that the game was far from over. Schneider’s goal off a centering pass from freshman forward Drew Stafford made it a 4-3 game.
“North Dakota just took it away from us in the third period,” said Eagles coach Jerry York. “I felt good after two periods. We played very, very well. But we got put right back on our heels with their quick start in the third period.”
At the 2:08 mark, Bochenski netted his second goal to tie it 4-4. Stafford put the Sioux ahead for good with his game-winning goal at 4:14. Bochenski got the hat trick — the fifth of his career — with an insurance maker for UND at 6:37 to make it 6-4.
The Eagles had an opportunity to cut the Sioux lead late in the third period when they had a 5-on-3 power play for 45 seconds. But the Sioux successfully killed that penalty and the 5-on-4 power play that followed.
The Eagles pulled Kaltiainen for the final 52 seconds of the game, but were unable to make a dent in UND’s two-goal lead.
Blais said that what got the Sioux back into the game was doing a better job of transitioning from defense to offense.
“They (BC) had it in the first period and I think we had it in the second half of the game,” he said.
Forrest was at a loss to explain his team’s third-period lapse.
“We kind of broke down in the third period. I don’t really know exactly what it was. You can’t point to one person because we had them going into the third. We didn’t play well at all,” he said.
The second game of the series will be played at 7:05 p.m. Saturday at Ralph Engelstad Arena.