GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Fighting Sioux player T.J. Oshie found inspiration in the spirit of a real-life Sioux warrior the late Woodrow Wilson Keeble honored during a ceremony at Ralph Engelstad Arena just before North Dakota’s game against Bemidji State.
UND fell behind 2-0 in the first period before storming back for a 6-3 victory, completing the non-conference sweep in a home-and-home series with BSU. Oshie’s goal and three assists were instrumental to UND’s comeback.
Waiting to come on the ice, Oshie, who is part Ojibwe and was the Minnesota Indian Education Association’s male athlete of 2005, heard enough of the pre-game drum ceremony honoring the fallen veteran of World War II and Korea to understand its importance.
“Hearing the ceremony go on, I thought to myself that this guy was a warrior, day in and day out of his life, and that’s what we needed to be Fighting Sioux,” Oshie said. “We needed to be warriors out on the ice. We came back and fought like warriors all game.”
The 11,633 hockey fans in attendance honored Keeble, a member of the Sisseton-Wahpteon Oyate Sioux tribe who was born in South Dakota and grew up in North Dakota. The ceremony was attended by members of Keeble’s family, Sioux military veterans, tribal officials and military dignitaries.
Keeble, who died in 1982 at the age of 65, was wounded five times in combat. A highly decorated soldier, he has been posthumously nominated for the Medal of Honor for his exploits during a battle in the Korean War and would be the first Sioux Indian to receive the award.
BSU couldn’t have asked for a better start to the game, scoring two goals 25 seconds apart in the first period. At the 6:08 mark, Beavers junior defenseman David Deterding blasted a slapshot from the right circle past Sioux goalie Philippe Lamoureux.
The next BSU goal scored at 6:33 proved controversial. Sophomore forward Tyler Scofield got a step on UND defenseman Chay Genoway. Lamoureux stopped Scofield’s shot, but as the puck lay just outside the crease, BSU forward Shane Holman was tied up by UND defenseman Matt Jones. Both collided with Lamoureux, taking the goalie and the puck into the net.
Although the BSU players celebrated, the goal light didn’t come on and no goal was signaled. After reviewing the play, referee Bill Mason awarded the goal to the Beavers, giving them a 2-0 lead. That was Oshie’s call to battle.
“Me and Jon (Toews) kind of looked at each other on the bench after they got that second goal,” Oshie said. “We knew our line, being one of the more productive lines on the team, really needed to step up and get things going in the right direction.”
Behind strong games by Oshie and Toews (1 goal, 3 assists) UND took control of the game by scoring four straight goals, three on the power play.
The Sioux got on the board at 11:32 of the first period with a power play goal by Toews. Two BSU defenders took each other out when they converged on Oshie coming down the slot. That left Toews all alone with the puck. He got junior goalie Matt Climie down and slid the puck in behind him, making it a 2-1 game.
“We were fortunate to get the power play goal, get it back to a one-goal game and get out of the first period and have a chance to regroup and get our heads straight,” said UND coach Dave Hakstol. “Our whole game was better through the second and third period.”
In the second period, UND tied it up with a goal by Oshie at 3:07. Climie stopped Toews’ initial shot, but trailing the play, Oshie backhanded in the rebound. UND junior defenseman Robbie *Bina* scored on the power play at 5:37 to give the Sioux their first lead. Oshie found Bina coming down the slot unattended. His wrist shot beat Climie high to the stick side, giving UND a 3-2 lead.
Sophomore defenseman Taylor Chorney put UND up 4-2 with a power play goal at the 10:46 mark. BSU once again failed to cover a Sioux defenseman coming down the slot. Chorney’s backhander bounced off a BSU’s player skate and went in 5-hole.
The Beavers refused to buckle, however, and cut the Sioux lead to one with a power play goal at 16:46 by Joey Hoggach. Moments after Climie stopped Toews on a shorthanded attempt, Hoggach picked up the rebound, got around Sioux defenseman Brian Lee at the blue line and put in a sharp-angled shot that deflected in.
BSU kept it close until penalties took their toll late in the third period. UND cashed in on a 5-on-3 advantage at 17:09 when Oshie once again found Bina coming down the slot. He fired the centering pass from behind the net past Climie to put the Sioux up 5-3. Bina’s second goal of the game was his sixth of the season.
“We had trouble with Bina,” said BSU coach Tom Serratore. “We talked about it in our film session today. He’s very active on the blue line, and we had a hard time picking him up.”
Bina, a Grand Forks native, has been an offensive force from the blue line during the second half of the season.
“It’s something I’ve been trying to look for the last couple of weeks,” Bina said. “If there’s an opening I can fill, I’ll jump in and try to help on the offensive side.”
With the teams skating four-on-four, a faceoff in the UND zone and just over 2 minutes left in the game, Serratore pulled Climie for the extra attacker. Toews won the faceoff and Chorney carried the puck just past the center line where shot in the empty netter to complete UND’s 6-3 victory.
“We did what we wanted to do,” Serratore said. “We’re in their building and we’re down a goal with five minutes to go. Then we get penalties and it just takes everything away from you. It’s a disappointing loss because we didn’t even give ourselves a chance to tie this thing up.”
Since the holiday break, UND is 6-1-1 (13-11-2 overall, 7-9-2 WCHA). During the first half of the season, Hakstol said his team might not have come back from a two-goal deficit.
“There’s been occasions when we’ve gotten into a hole early on and we sagged on the bench,” he said. “Tonight, some key guys stepped forward and made great plays. We showed some poise. We’ve won some tough games since Christmas-time and we’re going to have to continue winning tough games as we go down the stretch.”
The Beavers (12-9-3 overall, 7-2-3 CAH), were once 5-1 against WCHA teams, but have now lost four straight to UND and Michigan Tech.
“I don’t feel good at all right now,” Serratore said. “I hate giving games away. I felt tonight that we didn’t give ourselves a chance to tie it up. We didn’t give ourselves a chance to win. It’s a tough pill to swallow right now.”
UND was 4-10 on the power play while BSU was 1-7. Lamoureux stopped 16 of 19
shots he faced while Climie made 30 saves on 36 shots.
UND returns to conference play next weekend for a two-game series at Minnesota Jan. 26-27. BSU is on the road against Alabama-Huntsville for a two-game series Feb. 2-3.