GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Apparently, not being No. 1 agrees with North Dakota, at least at this point of the season.
After falling to second in the USCHO poll for the first time this season, the Fighting Sioux throttled visiting Colorado College 6-2 before a sellout crowd of 11,824 at Ralph Engelstad Arena.
Behind the steady net minding of senior goalie Jean-Philippe Lamoureux, who made 23 saves on 25 shots, and a relentless, attacking offense, UND surged to a three-goal lead in the first period and then cruised to victory in its WCHA home opener.
When were in our own barn, we want to try to put the other team back on its heels, said Sioux assistant captain T.J. Oshie. We use the term Push them through the Zamboni doors. Thats what we did.
CC coach Scott Owens wouldnt disagree.
They were hitting on all cylinders tonight, and theyre good in a lot of areas, he said of the Sioux. Theyre big, theyre physical and they all move their feet well. It was a tough night for us.
UND coach Dave Hakstol also credited Sioux fans with being a factor.
We took advantage of what was a great crowd tonight, he noted. We gave them something to stay excited about. Thats the result of going out and having a good start.
UND junior forward Ryan Duncan, last seasons Hobey Baker winner, went over 100 points for his career with two goals and an assist. Oshie, who passed the 100 point mark last week at Michigan Tech, had a power play goal and two assists.
UND scored three times on six first period shots to jump out to a 3-0 lead. On the other end of the ice, Lamoureux stopped all nine shots he faced. He robbed forward Eric Walsky on a breakaway and anticipated cross-crease pass to stifle a Tiger point-blank scoring opportunity.
They had some great chances, Duncan said. It could be a whole different game if Phil doesnt make those saves for us.
Oshie notched his fifth goal of the season at 3:29 on the power play. Senior defenseman Robbie Bina took the puck off the boards on the right side and sent a cross-ice pass to Oshie, standing alone to the left of CC junior goalie Drew OConnell. The Warroad, Minn., product pounded the puck home to give UND a 1-0 lead.
The Sioux struck 50 seconds later off a turnover in the CC zone. Oshie split the defense and passed the puck across to forward Ryan Duncan, who easily tapped the puck into a wide-open net.
About seven minutes into the first period, Tiger defenseman Nate Prosser left the game and didnt return. As he and Oshie went into the corner after the puck, the Sioux forward delivered a hit that sent the 6-2, 203 pound defenseman crashing into the boards. Owens said Prossers status for Saturdays game was questionable.
UND freshman defenseman Derrick LaPoint scored his first college goal at 10:27 when he joined a 3-on-1 rush into the CC zone. Duncans pass went through OConnells pads and likely would have gone in, but LaPoint got his stick on the puck just before it crossed the line to get credit for the goal.
Thats something we feel like our defensive corps can add, Hakstol said. LaPoint scoring that goal, thats something we want to see out of our defensive corps. Derrick came from way back to add to the rush.
CC sophomore defenseman Kris Fredheim said the Tigers didnt match UNDs tenacious style of play.
I think they were more aggressive than us, he explained. We definitely werent tough enough the first period. We werent really doing anything to slow them down and they took it to us.
A quick goal just 1:06 into the second period by CC sophomore forward Bill Sweatt enabled the Tigers to make it a 3-1 game. However, at the 10:00 mark, CC got into penalty trouble and UND took full advantage of it. On a delayed penalty and with Lamoureux pulled for the extra attacker, the Tigers committed two additional infractions, giving the Sioux a two minute 5-on-3 power play.
Duncan got his second goal of the game at 11:07 with the two-man advantage. He patiently held the puck at the bottom of the right circle, waited for OConnell to go down and then roofed the shot under the crossbar to restore UNDs three-goal lead.
The Tigers made it a two-goal game once more when junior forward Eric Walsky capitalized on a rare Lamoureux rebound that he pounded in just three minutes into the third period. But UND responded with two goals of its own to put the game away.
I thought they (the Sioux) were in control of the game just about the entire time, Owens said. It would have been nice to get back-to-back goals, but they are awfully stingy. They havent given up more than two goals the whole season. We just couldnt get anything sustained.
At the 4:44 mark, Sioux captain Rylan Kaip buried a backhander set up by a pass from behind the net by linemate Matt Frattin to make it 5-2.
Fredheim said Giving up key goals after scoring has been a problem for CC.
Its tough when you start coming back on them and they have a good shift, he said. Lately, we havent played very good shifts after weve scored goals.
Joe Finley closed out the scoring at 10:14 when his shot from the blue line beat OConnell cleanly through traffic, giving the Sioux a 6-2 conference win.
OConnell finished the game with 21 saves on 27 shots. UND was 2-6 on the power play while CC went 0-4.
CC has very good specialty teams and one of our goals was to win the specialty teams battle, Hakstol said. We did that tonight and it was a big factor.
Overall, the Sioux coach was pleased with the teams effort.
I thought we got good play out of a lot of guys tonight, he said. Everybodys got a job to do. Everybodys got to chip in and play their part. I thought we had a lot of smart, intelligent play tonight.
UND improves to 4-1-1 overall and 2-1-0 in conference play. CC, ranked ninth in the nation coming into the series, is 2-3-0 overall and 2-1-0 in the WCHA. The two teams meet at 7:05 p.m. Saturday for the second game of the series in Engelstad Arena.