MADISON, Wis. — Talking to reporters after his team’s troubling 4-0 loss to No.10 Wisconsin the night before, senior captain Rylan Kaip was frustrated trying to find an answer to why his team couldn’t find the back of the net as of late, and that No.3 North Dakota needed to try and get some ‘ugly goals.’
After the first 20 minutes, the Fighting Sioux got all the ugly goals they would need to break out of their mini scoring funk.
Sophomore Chris VandeVelde scored midway through the first and junior T.J. Oshie scored with three seconds left in the opening period, giving North Dakota enough to salvage a split with the Badgers, winning game two of a physical two-game series 3-1.
“We were able to make some plays,” said senior Robbie Bina, who notched two assists on the evening. “They weren’t tic-tac-toe or anything like that. It was nice to get out there, get a goal first and go from there. We were able to raise our level (of play) a little bit more tonight.”
Just like the previous night, the Fighting Sioux (5-3-1, 3-3-0 WCHA) dictated the pace against the younger Badgers (5-3-0, 2-2-0 WCHA). However, whereas North Dakota had nothing to show for its efforts last night, UND were able to find the back of the net in round two.
After UW’s Cody Goloubef was whistled for cross checking in the first, giving UND its first power play of the evening, Bina found VandeVelde open above the faceoff circle. Before Goloubef could even get comfy in the box, VandeVelde buried his third goal of the season, beating Connelly high and giving the Sioux their first lead of the series.
“We didn’t have a lot of spark coming out of the locker room,” senior captain Davis Drewiske said. “It’s disappointing that we could not match them from the start.”
After missing on a prime scoring chance the night before, Oshie wasn’t going to leave Madison empty-handed. As the first period was about to expire, Oshie was able to poke a rebound off a Ryan Duncan shot into the net for his sixth goal of the season, giving the Sioux some extra breathing room and taking the air out of Wisconsin.
“I just found a hole between the two defenders and got to a spot on the ice where I could get a stick on it,” Oshie said. “I got a shot through a screen and I don’t think (Connelly) saw it.”
A night after Connelly stopped 43 shots in what he called the best performance of his young career, Wisconsin’s junior netminder did not get the breaks he so generously received in game one, which was clearly indicated when Andrew Kozek scored North Dakota’s third goal of the night.
After seeing the puck perfectly in his shutout performance, Connelly was perfectly screened by two of his defensemen and didn’t see the puck until it passed the goal line.
“It was a tale of two different nights for me,” Connelly said. “They had some pretty good looks and took advantage of it. I made all those saves last night and don’t get the bounces tonight. I had chances, but they buried their opportunities.”
A night after allowing three goals and harshly blaming himself for the loss in the process, senior Sioux goalie Jean-Philippe Lamoureux rebounded to stop 21 shots on the evening, allowing only a meaningless power-play goal with 2:19 left in third period to senior Matthew Ford.
“Phil played really well,” Bina said. “That’s what we expect from him and that’s what we usually get from him. It was a great job from him coming back from last night and coming back ready to play.”
Although Lamoureux will get the credit, North Dakota’s six defensemen kept Wisconsin at bay throughout the night. Although they had only two fewer shots on goal than the night before, the Badgers could count on one hand the number of legitimate scoring chances they challenged Lamoureux with.
“We definitely got more shots on net last night and tested them a bit more,” freshman Kyle Turris said. “We put pucks at (Lamoureux’s) feet last night and we didn’t do that much tonight. We definitely got away from that tonight.”
The goals were not the only thing ugly Saturday night, as fights broke out throughout the entire evening. Starting when Oshie made contact with Connelly after his goal and Wisconsin’s players took exception, both teams engaged in extra-circular activities, culminating with a five-plus-minute melee involving all ten players on the ice.
When the fight was finally broken up, the five North Dakota skaters, Chay Genoway, Zach Jones, Kaip, Derrick LaPoint and Matt Watkins, and the Wisconsin skaters, Kyle Klubertanz, Brendan Smith, Ben Street, Podge Turnbull and Turris, were escorted from the ice, as 122 penalty minutes were given out.
Things even got testy after the conclusion of the game, as North Dakota coach Dave Hakstol and Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves had to be separated by referees Jon Campion and Derek Shepherd.
“From the bench, the whole thing bothered me how it unfolded and carried on,” Eaves said. “I was just disappointed and I expressed it to him. How often do you see that in college hockey?”
After a night where UND’s top line of Duncan, VandeVelde and Oshie were held scoreless on 11 shots, the front line got their revenge, notching the team’s first two goals and two assists to propel them to the win Saturday night.
“We’re look to develop offense, create chances and score when we get those chances,” Oshie said. “Last night, we had a lot of chances and we just didn’t capitalize. With one less line not going out there, that puts us at a disadvantage. We have pride in our line and we stepped up to the plate tonight.”