GRAND FORKS, N.D. — One second remained in overtime when St. Cloud State defenseman Justin Fletcher submarined North Dakota forward Chris Porter, denying him a scoring chance on a breakaway. Referee Bill Mason’s arm went up.
Fighting Sioux fans among the crowd of 11,600 in Ralph Engelstad Arena roared their demand for a penalty shot. On UND’s bench, coach Dave Hakstol made the penalty shot signal. And Huskies goalie Bobby Goepfert wanted it, too.
“I was actually hoping for a penalty shot,” the senior from King Park, N.Y. said. “I’m not a gambler, but I’m a risk-taker. I like to throw it all on the line.
“I said to everybody in the locker room, ‘I bet you guys didn’t want it, but I was itching.’ I hadn’t taken a penalty shot since juniors and I was pretty excited about it.”
But there was no penalty shot, which meant a wild game filled with end-to-end action ended in a 2-2 tie. UND, which was swept by SCSU at home last season, had to settle for three of four points, despite outshooting the Huskies 42-28.
“It’s tough to lose a point, but we also gained a point and we played very well doing it,” said UND coach Dave Hakstol.
The Huskies put themselves in good position by doing what no team has done to UND all season: They scored two goals in the first period. UND had outscored opponents 10-1 in the opening period.
The Huskies got on the board first at 10:40 with a power play goal by freshman forward Ryan Lasch. Junior forward Dan Kronick fired a cross-ice pass nearly parallel to the goal line that went through the crease to the left side of the net where Lasch was camped out. He directed the puck into the open net to give SCSU a 1-0 lead. It was the Huskies first power play goal in 23 attempts.
The Sioux answered back at 13:51 with a goal by Grand Forks native Robbie Bina, his first of the season. With the teams playing four-on-four, freshman Chay Genoway feathered a pass through a defenseman’s legs that found Bina crashing the net for a tip-in. At the time, Bina and Genoway were UND’s defensive pair on the ice.
“It’s something that shouldn’t happen where both defense are up, but it worked out all right, I guess,” Bina said. “It was a great play by Chay to get it over to me.”
Hakstol shook his head and smiled when asked about the two defensemen leading the rush up ice and combining for a goal.
“We worked on that in practice,” he deadpanned. “When you’re having trouble scoring, you have to try new things, get creative.”
SCSU responded less than a minute later when Lasch picked UND defenseman Brian Lee’s pocket behind the net and threw a pass into the crease. Despite being tied up by Sioux forward Matt Watkins, Kronick got his stick on the puck and pounded it past Sioux freshman goalie Anthony Grieco to put the Huskies up 2-1 at 14:38.
SCSU coach Bob Motzko said he was proud of his team’s effort, and especially Lasch, a native of Lake Forest, Calif., who had two goals and an assist in the series.
“We don’t have a whole lot of go-to guys, but they have to learn how to fight through it in this league,” he said. “He (Lasch) is doing it on his own. An atmosphere like this, he’s not intimidated. He wants the puck every shift. He has a track record of that.”
UND senior forward Chris Porter scored the game-winner Friday and the game-tying goal Saturday at 10:24 of the second period. With the Sioux on the power play, defenseman Taylor Chorney’s shot from the point was blocked, but the puck bounced to Porter who roofed a shot over Goepfert’s glove.
“It went off one of their defensemen in front,” Porter said. “I just happened to be sitting back door and I tried to put it home as quick as I could.”
Motzko said that after UND tied it up, the Huskies didn’t hold back on going for the win.
“We’re in North Dakota making plays,” he said. “With a young team, you’re going to make mistakes once in a while, and that’s what cost us.”
That set the stage for a wild third period with end-to-end action, brilliant saves by both goalies and outstanding defensive and offensive plays. The Sioux appeared to have the go-ahead goal with 7:46 left in the period. Forward T.J. Oshie’s shot from the slot hit the crossbar and bounced out. In the ensuing scrum in front of the net, the puck ended up in the net.
“All of a sudden, I don’t know what happened, but it went in. I didn’t see how,” Goepfert said.
The replay revealed that Sioux forward Jonathan Toews kicked the puck in with this skate, and the goal was disallowed.
The wild action carried into the overtime period with both Goepfert and Grieco making difficult saves. Despite having to kill a penalty, the Sioux outshot the Huskies 4-1 in overtime. Coming across the blue line, Oshie hit Porter with a pass that would have sent him in on Goepfert, but Fletcher’s tripping penalty prevented him from getting a shot off.
“The best way to describe it was chaotic,” said Goepfert, who was obviously still charged up after the game. “Everything was going a mile a minute.
“It’s going to take me about two hours to get to sleep now with my adrenaline going,” he laughed.
Watkins said that the play of Grieco, who’s filling in for the injured Philippe Lamoureux, shouldn’t be overlooked.
“He stepped in with zero experience and we’re undefeated with him in the net right now, so that’s a good thing,” he said. “He played exceptionally well this weekend.”
UND improves to 6-3-1 overall and 4-1-1 in the WCHA. SCSU, which has played all league games, is 2-3-1. UND is off next weekend, and then travels to Alaska Anchorage for a two- game series Nov. 17-18. SCSU has a home-and-home series with Minnesota Nov. 10-11. .