GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Scoring from all four lines and a solid defensive effort spurred North Dakota to a 5-2 victory over visiting Colorado College at Ralph Engelstad Arena.
After going 0-3-1 in their last four WCHA games, the opportunistic Fighting Sioux continually took advantage of the Tigers’ mistakes while holding them to 17 shots on goal. UND turned in what coach Dave Hakstol said was the team’s best 60 minutes of the season.
“When a team has struggled like we have over the last three games, it takes an effort like tonight to maybe turn the tide a little bit,” Hakstol said. “Tonight was a good 60-minute effort, not only physically, but probably most importantly, it was a good 60-minute mental effort.”
After stunning UND with a 4-3 come-from-behind victory on Friday, CC coach Scott Owens said the Sioux looked and played like a different team.
“They’re a good team and they played with a ton of confidence,” he said. “They didn’t look like a team that’s been struggling.”
“It was huge for us getting this win tonight,” said UND sophomore forward Andrew Kozek. “Going to Alaska and getting swept up there after that long trip and then losing again last night, getting this win to get us back on track is definitely real big for us.”
The Tigers got on the board at 8:16 of the first period when senior center Brandon Polich tipped Jimmy Kilpatrick’s slapper from the top of the left circle past Sioux junior goalie Philippe Lamoureux.
At 9:35, UND tied it up by cashing in on a blunder behind the CC net. Senior goalie Matt Zaba and defenseman Nate Prosser got tangled as Zaba attempted to play the puck. Sioux freshman center Darcy Zajac came up with the puck and stuffed the wraparound into the unoccupied net for his fourth goal of the season.
“That was a big goal,” Hakstol said. “There was a lot of poise shown on that goal. There was no panic. He knew he had time and he made the play.”
Zajac’s goal energized the Sioux who applied relentless forechecking pressure. That paid off at 13:54 when freshman Chay Genoway got his stick on the puck during a melee in front of the net and roofed a backhander over Zaba, giving UND a 2-1 lead.
It took the Sioux only 13 seconds to add their third goal of the period. UND senior forward Chris Porter intercepted a CC outlet pass and fired a hard slapshot that Zaba stopped. However, the rebound went directly to center Matt Watkins at the side of the net who shot it in to give UND a 3-1 lead. The period ended with UND holding a 17-6 advantage in shots on goal.
“We came out and got the first goal, then had the misplay behind the net which kind of opened the floodgates a little bit,” Owens said. “They stormed us in the first and it kind of set the tone for the rest of the game.”
Just 32 seconds into the second period, UND capitalized on another CC mistake to take a 4-1 lead. An errant outlet pass went directly to Kozek, a Sioux third-line forward. All alone in the slot, he stopped the puck with his skate, kicked it to his stick and got off a backhander that beat Zaba through the pads. The unassisted goal was Kozek’s third tally of the season.
“I almost fell actually trying to put it in there,” Kozek said of the play. “So it’s pretty fortunate that it went in five-hole.”
“They’re a good team and we let them get on a roll,” Owen said. “They were physical, they were aggressive and it wasn’t necessarily the big-name guys that were doing it. It was their third and fourth lines that were playing aggressive and hard and getting in there.”
In the third period, UND took a commanding 5-1 lead with a goal by sophomore defenseman Taylor Chorney. Just 10 seconds into UND’s second power play, Chorney rifled T.J. Oshie’s drop pass past Zaba. The Tigers closed out the scoring at 14:29 when sophomore center Chad Rau tipped in defenseman Lee Sweatt’s slapshot from the point.
Over the past four games, UND has faced a lack of goal-scoring and problems keeping the puck out of the net. In the second game against CC, the Sioux appeared to solve both problems.
“We had some problems scoring goals the last three, four games, so we wanted to make sure that we really didn’t give up many goals tonight,” said UND defenseman Brian Lee.
UND was 1-3 on the power play while CC was 0-3. Lamoureux made 15 saves on 17 shots and Zaba stopped 31 of the 36 shots he faced.
CC is 8-5-1 overall and 5-3-0 in the WCHA. UND improves to 7-6-1 overall and 5-4-1 in conference play. The Tigers have a home-and-home series with Denver Dec. 1-2. UND next plays an exhibition game against the U.S. under-18 national team before a two-game series at home against Wisconsin Dec. 7-8.