GRAND FORKS, N.D. — North Dakota coach Dave Hakstol hoped that some shakeups in the Fighting Sioux lineup would produce better results.
The line juggling paid off in UNDs 3-1 win over visiting Hockey East opponent New Hampshire before 11,721 fans at Ralph Engelstad Arena. However, Hakstol probably never envisioned that most of his teams offense would come from a line that played just four games together since late last season.
Senior Kyle Radke, a converted defenseman from Bashaw, Alberta, had not been in the lineup for the past month and a half. Winnipeg native Darcy Zajac, a sophomore center, struggled in the first half of the season. Junior forward Ryan Martens of Selkirk, Manitoba, had been in and out of the lineup.
But these three players, who had four points between them in UNDs first 15 games, proved to be the difference-makers against UNH, tallying two goals and three assists.
I dont know if its the whole Canadian thing or what, Radke joked, after picking two assists on his linemates two goals. I was pretty rested, I guess you could say.
Quite frankly, hes a guy that we missed in our lineup, Hakstol said of Radke. Heart and soul is tough to replace, and thats what he brings. He made some plays tonight. He brought a physical presence. Its attitude, and he brings that to the locker room.
Zajac notched his first goal of the season when Martens took the puck off the end boards and threw a pass into the slot. Zajac one-timed a shot that beat UNH senior goalie Kevin Regan far side, giving UND a 1-0 lead at 19:20 of the first period.
Darcy Zajacs been a guy who had his struggles through the first half, Hakstol said. For him to get off to the start that he did and score the first goal of the game was real important.
UNDs lead held until 5:49 of the third period when UNH junior forward Jerry Pollastrone fired in a beautiful cross-ice pass from Peter LeBlanc that beat Sioux senior goalie Jean-Philippe Lamoureux high glove side.
The 1-1 tie lasted for 27 seconds. UND sophomore forward Chay Genoway spotted freshman winger Matt Frattin at the UNH blue line and hit him with a long pass that sent him in alone. Regan made the initial save, but freshman center Even Trupp, trailing the play, put in the rebound for the game-winner.
It was an ugly goal, but thats one of the things we talked about after the first 20 minutes, Hakstol said. We had to find a way to get there and get some rebounds. Evan Trupp did a good job of going right to the top of the crease and finding a way to punch that one in.
UNH coach Dick Umile said UNDs quick response wiped out his teams momentum. Kevin made the save and our second defenseman over skated it, he said He puts in the rebound. Its a killer.
It took UND just 41 seconds to score again. Martens collected his first goal of the season at 6:57, giving the Sioux a 3-1 lead that the Wildcats could not overcome. His wrist shot from the left circle went in short side.
The goalie read a pass and I was just able to sneak it underneath him, under the arm, Martens said. I wish I could say I was trying to put it there, but I just put it in the right spot at the right time.
Lamoureux stopped 29 of 30 shots he faced, and his goaltending was praised by Umile and Hakstol.
We had some scoring chances and he made some great saves, Umile said. We missed the net early in the game when we had some good scoring opportunities. In the second period and in the third period, we had some good scoring chances and he made some great saves.
Hakstol said Lamoureuxs play made up for a three-week layoff.
We had some breakdowns, and you can predict that those types of things are going to happen after being off for as long as we have, he said. When we did have breakdowns, Phil was there to slam the door and give us an opportunity.
UNH assistant captain Brad Flaishans though the Wildcats played well overall, but not well enough to win.
We came out a little bit flat at first, he said. We battled back in the second and third. Two little mistakes and that took the game away from us.
UNH falls to 9-5-1 overall and is 6-4-1 in conference play. The Sioux improve to 9-6-1 overall and are 6-6-0 in the WCHA. The two teams meet at 7:05 p.m. Saturday in Engelstad Arena for the second game of the series.