GRAND FORKS, N.D. — After losing, 2-1, Friday night, North Dakota switched goalies. St. Cloud State stuck with the same goalie, junior Bobby Goepfert.
The score and the result Saturday night was the same as Friday night. Goepfert gave up only one goal to the top-scoring team in the WCHA entering the series and the Huskies skated away with a 2-1 overtime victory and an important road sweep.
The game-winning goal — just 18 seconds into overtime by SCSU sophomore defenseman Matt Stephenson — was his first collegiate goal, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.
“I’ve been waiting so long that I think I almost hit the scoreboard when I jumped in the air,” said a smiling Stephenson.
Sioux junior goalie Jordan Parise started for UND, replacing sophomore Philippe Lamoureux, who was victimized by two bad bounces in the Friday night loss.
Just 2:23 into the first period, sophomore forward Andrew Gordon put SCSU up, 1-0, when a Sioux defensive breakdown led to a 2-on-1 rush. Gordon tipped a centering pass from Brock Hooten past Sioux junior goalie Jordan Parise.
At 10:16 of the first period, UND freshman forward T.J. Oshie evened the score at 1-1 with his 15th goal of the season. Parise banked the puck off the glass, sending Oshie flying down the right side. His wrister from the right circle beat Goepfert high short side. And then, UND was done scoring for the night.
“Oshie beats Goepfert up high, and they all came back with the same shot,” said SCSU coach Bob Motzko. “Bobby wouldn’t bite again. He knew. He stayed on it. They put a few off his shoulder again and he got his glove on a couple. He adjusted to that very well.”
For the next two periods, it was a goalie duel between Goepfert and Parise in which both goalies refused to buckle. The Sioux outshot the Huskies, 17-10, in the first period, but the next two periods were more even with the Sioux owning a 20-17 advantage. Neither team could capitalize on power play. UND was 0-for-4 and SCSU was 0-for-5.
In overtime, UND won the opening faceoff and got the puck into the SCSU zone. When the Sioux forwards got caught deep, it created an odd-man rush for the Huskies.
“We got caught up ice and gave up a partial 2-on-1,” said UND coach Dave Hakstol. “From there, it was a scramble with one of our forwards trying to cover down low and he got caught down low. That created a chain reaction.”
Parise stopped the first shot, but when the puck came into the slot, Stephenson fired it through traffic and into the back of the net, giving SCSU a 2-1 victory and completing the road sweep of the Sioux.
“I saw the puck pop up in the air and nobody saw it. It came right to me in the slot,” Stephenson said. “There was a big crowd to the right side of the net, and I just put it on the other side. I saw the light go on and I started celebrating. I was aiming for that side of the net because there was a big crowd on the other side. I didn’t think it was actually going to get through. ”
The Sioux continue to struggle at home and are now 7-8-0 at Ralph Engelstad Arena. They’ve been swept at home by WCHA opponents Wisconsin, Minnesota and now SCSU.
Despite being dropping two games, UND held on to fourth place in the WCHA with a one point lead over Colorado College, which was off this weekend. The Huskies climbed into a tie for fifth place with the Tigers.
But Colorado and SCSU each have two games in hand on the Sioux, who next travel to Colorado Springs for a two-game series with the Tigers Feb. 3-4. The Huskies host Alaska-Anchorage in a series Feb. 3-4.
SCSU is 14-9-3 overall and 9-8-1 in the WCHA. UND falls to 17-12-1 overall and 10-10-0 in league play. The sweep of UND puts the Huskies in position to think of the home ice for the league playoffs and the WCHA Final Five tournament in March.
“We just got to strictly look at next weekend. You start looking ahead in this league,” Motzko said. “We can’t do that at all.”