GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Junior center Rory McMahon scored the game-winning goal as North Dakota defeated the U.S. National Under-18 Team 4-1 at Engelstad Arena.
Coming off a sweep of the Pioneers at Denver Nov. 21-22 and a week off, the top-ranked Fighting Sioux looked flat, but played well enough to win.
“It was kind of a low-intensity game just because we had the week off,” said UND junior forward Quinn Fylling. “So, yeah, it was tough to get back into it.”
Fylling, who missed the Denver series because of illness, put North Dakota up 1-0 at 14:04 of the first period with an unassisted shorthander.
“It was the end of a shift and I was super-tired,” he said. “I intercepted a pass and came down. It felt like I was in slow motion because I was going so slow and I was so tired.”
With 58 seconds left in the period, defenseman Matt Greene sprang McMahon on a breakaway with a long pass from UND’s zone. He beat U.S. goalie Chris Carlson to give the Sioux a 2-0 lead at the end of one period.
At 4:22 of the second period, U.S. forward Matt Auffrey made it a 2-1 game after firing in center Chad Kolarik’s pass from behind the net.
But less then a minute later, UND took a 3-1 lead when freshman forward Chris Porter batted the puck in while sliding on his knees with a defenseman draped on him.
“I tried to take him wide and he ended up slipping and tripping me at the same time,” Porter said. “I just tried to throw it on net. I wasn’t really putting it in a specific spot. I got lucky and it ended up going in.”
The Sioux scored the last goal of the game at 6:09 of the second period when freshman forward Erik Fabian tipped in defenseman Robbie Bina’s shot from the point.
Jordan Pearce, who faced 14 shots and shutout the Sioux for remaining 33:51 of the game, replaced Carlson in goal. UND freshman goalie Nate Ziegelmann got his first start of the season and stopped 10 of 11 shots.
Coach Dean Blais said the Sioux played the exhibition because they needed a fill-in game between Denver and their upcoming series with Minnesota-Duluth Dec. 12-13.
“We needed something more than practice. It’s good to play against someone else besides your own guys,” he said. “But we definitely have to pick it up next week and execute better than we did this week.”
U.S. coach John Hynes was pleased with his team’s effort.
“That was the best that I think I’ve seen them play. I’m just proud of them that they came out and competed and they weren’t really intimidated,” he said. “That was a good step for these kids because I think they had some difficulty with Division I opponents lately.”