COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — One team featured two finalists for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award. The other reached the NCAA tournament despite being tied for 28th in the latest PairWise Rankings.
In the end, the favorite came out on top.
Top-seeded North Dakota opened the West Regional with a systematic 3-0 victory over Atlantic Hockey champion Holy Cross Friday at the World Arena. North Dakota advances to Saturday’s regional final, which begins at 7 p.m. MST.
“We have one goal in mind, and this is just a steppingstone,” said netminder Jordan Parise. “Until we get to the big game, we can’t really give anyone any credit.”
Zach Parise, one of the Fighting Sioux’s two Hobey Baker candidates, opened the scoring 47 seconds into the contest. North Dakota (30-7-3) scored once in each period and outshot the Crusaders in each frame as well, finishing with a 37-21 advantage in shots.
Parise’s 23rd goal of the season came off assists from Brady Murray and Brandon Bochenski, North Dakota’s other Hobey hopeful.
“At times, it’s almost too easy. You start thinking ‘Geez, we scored on our first shift?’ You want to score on the second and third and so on,” said UND head coach Dean Blais.
“But the short passes that we do so well weren’t there. We tried to make the long pass instead of the short pass. We were maybe a little uptight with the first game, but hopefully tomorrow we can move the puck more effectively.
The Crusaders (22-10-4) nearly netted an equalizer midway through the first period, but Andrew McKay’s point-blank chance was stopped by North Dakota netminder Jordan Parise.
The brawny Fighting Sioux (30-7-3) tightened their defense from there, allowing only three shots in the second period while steadily pulling away.
Holy Cross remained within a goal until the end of the second period, when North Dakota used its power play to pad its lead. Parise hit Bochenski between the circles, allowing the junior right wing to bury his 27th goal of the season. Bochenski is now tied with New Hampshire’s Steve Saviano for the third-most goals in the nation.
North Dakota extended its lead to 3-0 early in the third. Senior alternate captain Ryan Hale, working from the left corner, found Mike Prpich gliding across the crease. Prpich got Holy Cross sophomore goaltender Tony Quesada off-balance before deflecting a shot off Quesada’s pads for his ninth goal of the season.
“All year long we’ve been a third-period team,” said Bochenski. “We only got one goal [in the third], but we had plenty of chances and we really shut them down.”
Fighting Sioux freshman Brady Murray, the third cog of North Dakota’s devastating top line, finished with a pair of assists and has 27 on the season.
Jordan Parise finished with 21 saves in his first NCAA tournament start. It was Parise’s second shutout of the season, and North Dakota coach Dean Blais indicated Parise would start on Saturday.
“I can’t take it all [the credit]. My defense and forwards did a great job of letting me see the puck,” said Parise. “We cleared lanes and let the goaltender see the puck. I think the only bad thing was that we couldn’t complete passes. A win is a win.”
Quesada, who literally became ill on the ice midway through the third period, finished with 30 saves before leaving to a hearty ovation with 3:42 remaining in the game.
“I think they had a lot of energy. It wasn’t a pretty game and it wasn’t racehorse hockey,” said Blais. “In their defensive zone they played good position.
“It was hard to get to the net, and when we did they had a guy [Quesada] who made some great saves. Obviously he got sick, but as soon as they put the other guy [Conway] in there he made a couple of really good saves.”
The Crusaders went 0-for-5 on the power play.