GRAND FORKS, N.D. — St. Cloud State senior wing Konrad Reeder learned an important lesson in the Huskies 2-1 victory over North Dakota: Sometimes it pays to ask questions.
When he shot the puck toward the net from a nearly impossible angle with 59 seconds left in the second period, Reeder appeared to be the only person on the ice who thought he’d scored. The goal light didn’t come on and referee Randy Schmidt blew the play dead without signaling a goal.
Reeder alone had his stick in the air.
“It looked like it went across from what I saw, and no one else celebrated,” he said. “It was like, ‘Okay, maybe I was seeing things.’
“I went over to Schmidty and asked about going upstairs (for a review). He said, ‘We’ll take a look at it’ because he didn’t even really seem to know what was going on. I don’t know exactly what happened, but it seemed to go in.”
After viewing the replay, Schmidt awarded SCSU the goal, breaking a scoreless tie and giving the Huskies a 1-0 lead heading into the third period.
UND coach Dave Hakstol had little to say about the goal.
“I can’t comment on it,” he said. “He (Schmidt) said it was a good goal,” .
Sioux freshman center Jonathan Toews tied the game at the 6:14 mark with a power-play goal. A turnover in SCSU’s zone led to an outnumbered situation for the Sioux down low. Forward Drew Stafford fed Toews at the side of the net, and he stepped out front and jammed the puck past goalie Bobby Goepfert.
“That was really our only critical mistake, and they scored on it,” SCSU coach Bob Motzko said.
The game-winner at 11:48 by SCSU sophomore forward Marty Mjelleli was the result of another bounce going the Huskies’ way. His wrister from the right circle was partially blocked by Sioux defenseman Taylor Chorney. The puck knuckled in past goalie Philippe Lamoureux, who was handcuffed by the change of direction.
“I didn’t think we gave up many grade-A scoring opportunities, but by the same token, we didn’t create many,” said UND captain Matt Smaby. “It’s hard to win a game when you can’t score. Teams are going to get bounces. When you can’t put the puck away, it’s going to be a long night.”
UND had a chance to tie the game late when John Swanson was called for holding at 17:48, giving the Sioux their second-straight power play of the period. Hakstol pulled Lamoureux and put six forwards on the ice for the final 1:19 of the game, but Goepfert remained solid, gloving a bouncing puck out of the air with 5 seconds left. It was the last good scoring chance UND would get.
“We don’t take a lot of penalties, and we deserved those at the end,” Motzko said. “We did dodge a bullet there.”
Goepfert was stellar all game, stopping 28 of 29 shots he faced. He made several outstanding saves on point-blank opportunities during UND’s six power plays.
“He was great tonight, no question,” Motzko said. “He was standing tall, seeing everything.”
With Colorado College idle this weekend, the Sioux held on to fourth place in the WCHA, one point ahead of the Tigers. The Huskies, who have two games in hand on UND, moved into sixth place in the league, three points behind the Sioux.
The road win put the SCSU at 13-9-3 overall and 8-8-1 in the WCHA. Motzko said his team can now think about the possibility of home ice for the playoffs.
“We’re in the hunt right now. It’s the first time we’ve said that,” he noted. “We’ve never talked any goals or any expectations. We didn’t know what we were going to be at the start of the year.”
Hakstol was disappointed with his team’s lack of offensive production and execution on the power play where the Sioux had a 6-2 advantage over the Huskies.
“We don’t want to let a bounce of the puck in the last 10 minutes of the game decide a hockey game,” he said. “That’s where we have to take a close look at how we started the game and do things a little differently and a little better tomorrow night.”
UND is 17-11-1 overall and 10-9-0 in league play. The two teams will meet for the second game of the series in Ralph Engelstad Arena at 7:05 p.m. Saturday.