HOUGHTON, Mich. — The No.1 ranked North Dakota Fighting Sioux needed a stronger performance Saturday night after Friday’s loss to the No. 14 Michigan Tech Huskies, and rebounded well, getting a hat trick from assistant captain T.J. Oshie en route to a 6-0 victory at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena.
“We had better breaks tonight than we did last night,” said Sioux head coach Dave Hakstol. “I dont think our performance tonight was much better than last night.”
With Huskies’ winger Ryan Bunger and defenseman John Schwarz both whistled for penalties, the Sioux struck on the two-man advantage when Oshie’s attempted pass bounced off an unsuspecting Rob Nolan, the Huskies’ goaltender, at 5:42 of the first period.
Chris VandeValde, a sophomore center, extended the Sioux lead to two when he carried the puck out of the corner to Nolan’s left, skated into the slot, and beat Nolan back to his left. The goal, VandeVeldes second of the season, was assisted by Hobey Baker winner Ryan Duncan.
The Huskies had a lot of trouble getting shots on Sioux netminder Jean-Philippe Lamoureux until they got a two-man advantage of their own with four minutes left. Senior Peter Rouleau had the best chance, but couldnt get it up over Lamoureux.
“Lamoureux played extremely well,” said Huskies’ head coach Jamie Russell. “I dont think we played with the same jump tonight.”
Tempers flared when Lamoureux dropped an unsuspecting Huskies’ forward with a quick jab shortly after the Rouleau chance, earning a two minute penalty that was negated within seconds when Huskies’ assistant captain Tyler Shelast was whistled for interference.
Just over six minutes into the second period, the Sioux struck again as Duncan received a pass from VandeVelde and fed it across the front of the net to Oshie, who redirected the puck past Nolan with a quick move. The goal came at 6:08.
With the goal, Oshie became the 76th player in Sioux history to reach the 100 point plateau.
“I think that in some respects T.J. personifies our program,” said Hakstol. “He competes for his team, and every accomplishment he has is due to the performance of the team.”
Oshie’s third goal of the game came on the man advantage as Robbie Bina’s shot from the right point rebounded off the boards behind Nolan and out to Oshie waiting to the left of the net. Oshie netted a one-timer past Nolan for his fourth of the season at 13:54. Duncan also assisted on the goal.
The Sioux struck again when freshman winger Matt Frattin skated in and lifted a wrist shot over Nolan’s left shoulder. The goal, Frattin’s second of the season, came at 16:17.
The Sioux nearly made it a six-goal lead when junior winger Matt Watkins skated through the Huskies’ defense and in on Nolan, firing a wrist shot that bounced back to him, but he fired the rebound wide.
“We had a lot of breakdowns defensively,” said Russell. “We had some guys who took some short cuts defensively tonight.”
Andrew Kozek, a junior winger, did make it a six-goal lead when he skated out of the penalty box, took a pass and beat Nolan with a wrist shot. The goal came at 19:41.
Russell replaced Nolan with junior Michael-Lee Teslak for the final period. Friday nights hero was immediately tested by a Sioux power play.
“I think that Robbie is capable of playing better,” said Russell. “By no means am I pinning this loss on him.”
Senior winger Jordan Foote had the best Huskies’ opportunity of the game when he took a pass from sophomore defenseman Drew Dobson and tried to use his long reach to get around Lamoureux, but he couldn’t quite find the back of the net.
On the ensuing power play, Rouleau received a pass in the slot, but couldn’t find a way to beat Lamoureux.
The Huskies had another golden opportunity to score with eight and a half minutes to go, but freshman center Eric Kattelus fired a wrist shot that hit the crossbar and the post to the left of Lamoureux before bouncing back out into the slot.
“We were a little looser offensively,” said Hakstol. “I was happy with that.”
On the evening, Nolan and Teslak combined for 27 saves on 33 Sioux shots, while Lamoureux made 27 saves for the shutout, his fourth of the season.
Oshie picked up his third career hat trick, and now has 45 goals and 101 points in three seasons with the Sioux.