GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Perhaps it’s playing in an arena named after late casino owner Ralph Engelstad that turned North Dakota goalie Jordan Parise into a gambler.
Parise’s daring charge out of the net in the third period against visiting St. Cloud State was a gamble that turned to gold, enabling the Fighting Sioux to down the Huskies 3-1 and earn their first sweep since Oct. 9 against Maine, the opening weekend of their season.
The drama began when the Sioux went on the power play at 6:07 of the third period, protecting a 2-1 lead. SCSU junior forward Joe Jensen batted the puck away from Sioux point man Colby Genoway, sending it skittering toward UND’s zone.
With nobody between Jensen and the puck, Parise raced out of the net nearly to the blue line to play it along the boards.
“I thought I could beat him out there, but then we got there at the same time,” Parise said. “It was just a matter of if I had enough time to get a piece of him, then our guys would have enough time to get back.”
In the ensuing collision, Parise fell, his stick went flying and the puck slid across the ice.
Backchecking Sioux forward Rastislav Spirko scooped up the puck and fed it to senior forward Rory McMahon, who burst into the SCSU zone with a full head of steam. He split the defense, cut into the slot and fired a wrist shot that beat Huskies goalie Jason Montgomery glove side.
Parise’s move could have backfired. Instead, the Sioux got a two-goal lead that held up as the margin of victory.
“I felt it was the right play and I went for it — didn’t second-guess myself,” Parise explained. “It ended up being the right play.”
UND coach Dave Hakstol didn’t disagree.
“I thought he made the right decision coming out,” he said. “He just didn’t get the puck out of the zone.”
SCSU coach Craig Dahl called the third Sioux goal “a backbreaker.”
“That’s hockey. That stuff happens. It’s just the way it is,” Dahl said. “If we wouldn’t have missed the guy (McMahon) with our defenseman, there wouldn’t have been a goal.”
The sweep put the Sioux back on the winning side of the ledger with a 6-5-2 record overall (5-4-1 league) and moved them to third in the WCHA. SCSU is 6-5-1 overall and 2-4-0 in league play.
UND sophomore forward Chris Porter scored his fifth and sixth goals of the season, one at even strength and one on the power play. His first goal scored 5-on-5 gave the Sioux a 1-0 lead at 6:32 of the first period.
SCSU answered with a power-play goal by senior forward Dave Iannazzo at the 9:56 mark. Just 17 seconds into the second period with the Sioux on the power play, Porter scored the game-winner off a pass from freshman Travis Zajac.
“Zajac gave it across, it hit off their defenseman and was just sitting right there for the taking,” Porter said. “I just backhanded it in. It was pretty easy.”
After being held without a goal in UND’s first six games, Hakstol said Porter is becoming a force on offense.
“He’s playing a power forward-type of game,” he said. “He’s 6-foot 2, he can skate and he’s not trying to beat people by slowing the game down and getting cute. He’s driving wide, driving to the net, shooting the puck and doing all the right things.”
Dahl was more satisfied with his team’s performance on Saturday, but lack of offense remains a problem.
“We played better all the way around,” he said “We showed a little bit of heart, but we’ve got to score goals, too. That’s the name of the game.”
UND next travels to Michigan Tech for a two-game series Nov. 26-27. SCSU is at home against Minnesota-Duluth Nov. 26-27.