GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Alaska-Anchorage goalie Chris King held North Dakota to two goals on 44 shots, forcing the Sioux to come from behind in the third period to tie the Seawolves 2-2.
Although UND limited UAA to 17 shots on goal for the second straight night, the Seawolves made the most of their opportunities. King continually frustrated the number-one ranked Sioux, who averaged better than five goals per game going into Saturday’s contest.
“I think Chris is very confident right now. He’s had a good season. He’s a gamer and he was up to the challenge,” said UAA coach John Hill. “Without a doubt, that may be the best game I’ve ever seen him play. This is certainly one of them that we’ll all remember.”
Sioux coach Dean Blais agreed. “You look at the shot chart and it looks like a shooting gallery. King was the MVP tonight, by far,” he said.
After UND scored four power-play goals Friday to beat UAA 6-2 Friday, Hill said the Seawolves needed to win the special-teams battle. They did that by scoring a power-play goal and killing all five of UND’s power-play opportunities.
“It was a team effort tonight,” King said. “Everybody was getting in front of me. If I didn’t see the puck, they blocked it. If the puck got through, I was able to steer it into the corners or cover it up.”
At 13:02 of the first period, UAA capitalized 5-on-4 just two seconds after UND killed a 5-on-3 power play. Seawolves freshman forward Justin Bourne passed to senior center Charlie Kronschnabel, all alone in front of the net. His shot beat Sioux freshman goalie Jordan Parise to give the Seawolves a 1-0 lead they held for the remainder of the period.
In the second period, UND turned up the heat, outshooting UAA 20-4 and dominating play. At the 2:43 mark, Sioux junior center Rory McMahon walked into the slot from the right corner and flipped a backhand through traffic that eluded King.
The 1-1 tie lasted until 8:54 of the second period when Sioux defenseman Andy Schneider turned over the puck to UAA forward Curtis Glencross deep in UND’s zone. He passed from the left corner to a wide-open Ales Parez stationed in front of the net. He fired the puck past Parise to give UAA a 2-1 lead it held to period’s end.
Twelve minutes into the third period, the Sioux got another puck past King to tie the game 2-2. UND junior defenseman Matt Jones led a rush into the UAA zone and dug the puck out of the left corner. He spotted forward Quinn Fylling streaking down the slot and fired a pass to the front of the net that Fylling tipped in.
“I went to the corner and I did see Quinn. I threw it to the front of the net and he got the tip-in,” Jones said.
“It was one of those plays where I was actually trying to feed him the play before and he was just trying to return the favor,” Fylling said. “Luckily, I got a piece of it and it went off the pipe and in.”
The Sioux had two power plays in the third period, but couldn’t cash in. At 8:58, UAA defenseman Mark Smith hooked Sioux center Zach Parise high, hauled him down and was called for holding.
“He was bleeding. On a holding penalty,” Blais said. “The guy held him quite effectively.”
Parise received treatment on the bench for a cut in the neck area. Jersey bloodied, he returned to the game, but was held without a point for the night.
“How does Zach Parise go over (to Finland) and be the MVP of the world championship and come back here and be totally nullified?” asked Blais, who was clearly frustrated with the officiating.
In the overtime period, UAA outshot UND 3-2 and had the better scoring opportunities. However, neither King nor Jordan Parise surrendered a goal, ending the game in a 2-2 tie.
“I told the guys on the bench, ‘Let’s try to win this thing,’” Hill said. “I told them before the third period that if it does end up getting tied up, we ‘re going to try to win it. I don’t believe in being passive and conservative and playing back on your heels, especially when you play a team like North Dakota.”
Hill didn’t feel good about the tie, however.
“We’re beyond moral victories,” Hill said. “For us, we’ve had some success in the league this year. Even though North Dakota is number-one in the nation and deservedly so, we had a 2-1 lead in the third period and we didn’t manage to hang on to it. So we’re not happy.”
Blais was more satisfied with the tie, which he said could just as easily have been a loss.
“We got lucky. We tied them,” he noted. “Throw the shots out. We got a lucky second goal.”
With UND’s tie and Wisconsin’s loss to Michigan Tech, the Sioux moved into second place in the WCHA, one point behind the league-leading Badgers and a point ahead of St. Cloud State. UAA is in seventh place in the WCHA.
UND, 15-2-2 overall and 9-1-2 WCHA, travels to Michigan Tech for a two-game series Jan. 16-17. The Seawolves, 7-8-3 overall and 4-7-3 WCHA, play SCSU at home Jan. 16-17.