GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Although North Dakota kept its nation-best unbeaten streak (7-0-3) alive by tying visiting Minnesota-Duluth 2-2, it failed to pick up a much-needed win for the second straight game.
Last Saturday night against Minnesota State, the Fighting Sioux gave up two goals in the final 1:13 of regulation in a 4-4 tie. Friday night against the Bulldogs, UND needed a third period goal by sophomore forward Ryan Duncan, the WCHA’s leading scorer, to salvage a tie.
“This is WCHA hockey down the stretch,” UND coach Dave Hakstol said. “That’s how it is. There are two good teams fighting real hard to try to gain some
Duncan’s goal, his 23rd of the season, came just 43 seconds after UMD took a 2-1 lead on a goal by forward MacGregor Sharp at the 5:47 mark. Linemate Michael Gergen hit Sharp with a no-look pass from behind the UND net that he put in far side on UND goalie Philippe Lamoureux.
The Sioux quickly responded with their top line of sophomores Duncan, T.J. Oshie and Jonathan Toews which the Bulldogs had held in check to that point. As Oshie and Duncan entered the UMD zone with speed 2-on-2, Oshie left the puck for Duncan near the top of the right circle. He deked out forward Bryan McGregor and then cut in on goal where he shot the puck between the legs of goalie Josh Johnson.
“If you give good players time and space, they’re going to make good plays,” UMD coach Scott Sandelin said. “Duncan made a great play on that goal.”
The Bulldogs outshot the Sioux 9-3 in the third period, but Lamoureux preserved the tie with some key saves. In overtime, neither team could capitalize on their two shots on goal. In what turned into a defensive slugfest, UMD outshot UND 22-19.
“Defensively, we talked about knowing when the Toews, Oshie, Duncan line was out there and knowing your responsibilities, not getting caught deep and just being strong defensively,” Sharp said. “Other than that, we were just rolling four lines and playing solid.”
Both teams entered the game with two the WCHA’s best power plays, but the electrical outage that hit Ralph Engelstad arena last Wednesday also apparently left both teams’ power play units powerless. The Bulldogs went 0-3 with the man advantage while the Sioux were 0-6.
“That’s all that was really talked about coming into this series was both power plays,” Hakstol said. “There were some real good defensive plays both ways. There wasn’t a lot of time or space anywhere on the ice, especially in the middle of the rink.”
“I think both teams played well defensively,” Sandelin said. “Both goalies made some key saves. Both power plays didn’t score a goal, which is sometimes the way it goes. I thought it was a real even game. I’m okay with a point.”
In the first period, UND tempted fate by taking three consecutive penalties, but the Bulldogs couldn’t capitalize with the man advantage. The best scoring chance for either team came when Bulldogs sophomore forward and leading scorer Mason Raymond had a clean breakaway with about 5:20 remaining in the period. Lamoureux stoned him to keep it a 0-0 game.
UMD struck first 1:48 into the second period. Bulldogs forward Mike Curry was knocked down taking the puck to the net. Lying on the ice, his whack at the puck deflected into the air and toward the crease. The puck bounced in off UMD senior forward Andrew Carroll as he crashed the net. Referee Marco Hunt reviewed the goal, but allowed it to stand.
The Sioux tied it 1-1 at 6:58 of the second on junior forward Rylan Kaip’s second goal of the season. He put in the rebound off defenseman Robbie Bina’s shot from the right point.
Duncan said that he felt better about the tie against UMD than he did about the one against MSU the week before.
“It’s definitely disappointing,” he said. “We definitely want to get those two points. Every point is crucial down the stretch.”
UND (10-9-4 WCHA, 16-11-4 overall) remains in fifth place in the league, just one point ahead of Wisconsin. UMD (6-14-3 WCHA, 10-17-4 overall), is tied for last place with Alaska-Anchorage, but has one game in hand on the Seawolves.
The two teams will meet for the second game of the series at 7:05 p.m. Saturday in Engelstad Arena.