GRAND FORKS, N.D. — North Dakota forward Brandon Bochenski’s nine-game goal-scoring funk against Minnesota ended in grand style as the second-ranked Sioux skated to a 7-3 victory over the Golden Gophers Friday night.
In nine career games against Minnesota, UND’s junior forward and leading goal-scorer had a mere three assists. But Friday night, Bochenski scored his first-ever goal against the archrival Gophers, which was also UND’s first power-play goal of the season.
In helping to end Minnesota’s three-game unbeaten streak in the new Ralph Engelstad Arena, Bochenski picked up five points (2G, 3A), a career best. The game was UND’s WCHA conference opener.
Bochenski gave credit to linemates Zach Parise (1G, 1A) and Brady Murray (2G).
“When you have guys around you working like that, I think our line will be a force to be reckoned with all year,” he said.
UND, 0-26 on the power play in its first five games, was 2-6 on the power play against Minnesota while the Gophers were 1-4.
UND got on the board just 1:11 into the first period. Sioux defenseman Matt Jones’ shot from the blue line deflected of a Minnesota defenseman and past freshman goalie Kellen Briggs.
Sophomore center Parise put the Sioux up 2-0 at 12:40 of the first period. Streaking down the slot, Parise tipped Bochenski’s centering pass past Briggs.
Although UND outshot Minnesota 13-8 in the opening period, junior center Jake Fleming got the Gophers within a goal when he batted Jon Waibel’s partially deflected pass past Sioux junior goalie Jake Brandt.
In the second period, Minnesota outshot the Sioux 18-7, but all the early bounces went UND’s way.
With the Sioux on the power play, Gopher defenseman Joey Martin attempted to clear the puck from behind the net. But his shot hit Bochenski in the shin pad and deflected in, putting the Sioux up 3-1 at the 8:22 mark.
“I think I’ve had some of the most unusual goals ever,” said Bochenski, who has a reputation for scoring from anywhere on the ice. “That’s up there. I’ll give it a top 10.”
“That’s how Brandon is,” said Sioux assistant coach Dave Hakstol. “He’s around the net and somehow the puck finds the back of the net.”
Bochenski scored his second goal at 11:38 with the teams 4-on-4. After Parise won a faceoff in Minnesota’s zone, Bochenski bulled his way to the net for a shot that Briggs stopped. However, the Sioux forward batted the rebound out of the air and into the net to put UND up 4-1.
Minnesota’s strong play paid off when senior wing Troy Riddle scored on the power play at 16:14. Sophomore forward Tyler Hirsch pulled Minnesota within a goal when he scored, unassisted, 26 seconds later.
With two minutes left in the period and the Sioux reeling, the Gophers appeared to score the game-tying goal. However, referee Mike Schmitt immediately waved it off when it appeared that Sioux defenseman Matt Greene had gloved the puck in the crease.
Hakstol credited Brandt’s goaltending with keeping the Sioux in the game.
“When we got back on our heels a bit, Jake made a couple of big saves to get us back in the locker room with a one-goal lead when the Gophers were coming at us pretty good,” he said.
UND blew open the game in the third period with three unanswered goals. Just 1:07 in, Bochenski picked off a Minnesota clearing attempt and passed to freshman wing Brady Murray, who blasted in a slapshot from the slot.
Sioux defenseman Lee Marvin scored an unassisted goal — his first of the season — at 8:13. Gopher coach Don Lucia then replaced Briggs with junior goalie Justin Johnson. With UND on a 5-on-3 power play, Murray scored the last Sioux goal at 13:45, making the final score 7-3.
“Some of our top-end guys played very poorly tonight,” Lucia said. “You’re not going to beat a good team like this, especially in their building, if you don’t have everybody with their oars in the water.”
Hirsch said the two-time defending champion Gophers, now 2-5 overall and 1-4 in the WCHA, are still looking for answers.
“When we do come out of this, we’re going to come out of it together. We have a team full of guys who really care about each other. But right now, we don’t have any heart,” he said.
Asked if everyone on the team is working hard enough, Gopher captain Grant Potulny had a one-word answer: “No.”
UND is 6-1-0 overall and 1-0-0 in WCHA play. The second game of the series will be at 7:05 p.m. (CT) at Engelstad Arena.