MANKATO, Minn. — In his college debut, freshman goalie Philippe Lamoureux had three objectives: keep things simple, do his job, and give his team a chance to win.
Lamoureux did just that by stopping 29 of 30 shots and holding off a late flurry to lift North Dakota to a 2-1 road victory over Minnesota State (0-1-1 overall and WCHA) in front of 4,006 fans.
“I told (assistant coach Cary) Eades before the game, ‘Same deal, same routine, it’s just a different jersey,’” said Lamoureux.
The win gave the No. 1 Fighting Sioux (3-0-1 overall, 1-0-1 WCHA) an important three points in the first WCHA action for both clubs this season.
“He had some big saves down the stretch … He made two or three game-changing saves tonight, and that’s what you need from your goaltender, especially on the road,” said UND coach Dave Hakstol.
“Philippe’s a great goaltender. He’s gonna have a great career. He’s just a calm, collected guy, and he doesn’t crack under pressure. He’s going to win some big games for North Dakota,” said senior James Massen, who had the game-winning goal.
Despite giving up an early goal in the third period, Lamoureux stayed focused and refused to get jolted by the 4,006 fans and a late MSU surge.
With North Dakota up 2-1, the Mavericks had a power play with less than three minutes left. MSU’s Adam Gerlach had four chances in less than ten seconds in close, but Lamoureux stood tall and didn’t allow the senior forward to beat him.
“I thought Phil had a very poised performance tonight, all the way through,” Hakstol said. “After the first goal goes in, I looked for his reaction, and it was right back to business.”
Lamoureux, who had plenty of reasons to be nervous in his debut for the top-ranked team in the nation, pointed to his junior hockey experience when the game was on the line.
“That’s the great thing about the USHL,” said Lamoureux, who played for the Lincoln Stars last year. “You play in that situation every night. It really prepares you for the college level.”
The freshman goalie and his counterpart, MSU netminder Jon Volp, kept the game scoreless through two periods.
Early in the second period, Lamoureux stoned Travis Morin’s breakaway attempt.
Volp answered by robbing Rastislav Spirko. Spirko came in on the right side of the net, deked Volp, and moved to the left side of the net. Volp jumped to his right and made a tremendous toe save.
That set up MSU’s chance to upset the Sioux, as Gerlach gave Minnesota State a brief lead at 1:25 of the third. He beat defenseman Matt Jones one-on-one and then fired the puck past Lamoureux for his first goal of the year.
“I felt kind of bad after giving that one up just because the guys played tough the whole game,” Lamoureux said.
After that, UND turned on the pressure. The Mavericks also lost defenseman Steve Wagner to a leg injury early on, leaving the team with just five defensemen and resulting in a fatigued MSU team in the third.
“Playing five D this early in the season for basically the whole game, I think that wore us down a little bit,” said MSU coach Troy Jutting.
The Sioux outplayed the tired Mavericks and scored two goals in under 10 minutes.
On the power play, Brady Murray received a pass from Spirko on the right side of the net and buried the puck past Volp to tie the game at 2:55 of the period.
The Fighting Sioux poured on the pressure and scored the goal-ahead goal at 11:46 of the third. Erik Fabian took a shot from the slot that Volp stopped, but the rebound kicked way out to Massen. The senior forward put the puck into the empty net for his 22nd career goal.
Part of MSU’s loss was due to going 0 for 9 on the power play in the game. That included two five-on-three advantages for the Mavericks. Minnesota State went 0 for 15 on the weekend with the extra man.
“We’ve gotta shoot the puck a little bit more,” Jutting said. “It’s our first week. It takes a little bit of time normally to get the power play clicking. They scored one power play goal, and we lost by one goal.”
Although Jutting’s team played well enough over the weekend to outshot UND both nights and come close to winning in both contests, he also said his team has some work to do.
“I told (my players) I was disappointed in that fact that we only came out of the weekend with one point,” Jutting said. “I thought they played harder than that. But you’ve got to create those things, and my credit goes to North Dakota. They kept battling and found a way to win tonight. We have to learn that.”
“They played really hard this weekend,” Massen said of the Mavericks. “They always come out and try to work harder than us. They worked really hard this weekend. It’s a shame we had play against each other to lose points when they’re playing well and we’re play well.”
The Sioux return home next weekend to play the Minnesota Gophers. The Mavericks will take to the road to challenge Minnesota-Duluth.