GRAND FORKS, N.D. — North Dakota freshman forward Evan Trupp welcomed fellow Anchorage, Alaska, native Ben Christianson to the college hockey ranks by scoring the game-winning goal on the Seawolves freshman goalie in a 3-1 Fighting Sioux victory.
The first game of Christiansons NCAA career came against UND before 11,549 fans in Ralph Engelstad Arena. Although coach Dave Shyiak credited the young goalie for playing well and handling the pressure, it wasnt enough to stop fourth ranked UND from skating to its sixth consecutive WCHA win and moving into a tie with Denver for second place.
Were kind of throwing him into the fire, Shyiak said of his decision to start Christianson. To throw him into a situation like this where you have the environment, you have the crowd, against one of the top college teams in the country, I thought he handled it quite well.
Christianson, who stopped 31 of 34 shots he faced and helped hold the potent Sioux power play 1-6, was unfazed by the atmosphere and the hostile environment.
Its a fabulous rink and probably the most fans Ive ever played in front of in my life, he said. But it really didnt bother me.
What bothered him more was being scored on by Trupp, who notched his sixth goal of the season for UND.
Evan grew up in Anchorage and hes always been on a rival team of mine, Christianson explained. Its good to move on to the college level and be able to play against him again. I kind of notice him on the ice and hope that hes not going to get one on me. It gives him bragging rights during the summer.
I skate with him in the summertime and hes a pretty good guy, Trupp said. Weve had a pretty good rivalry against each other. Hes a big goaltender and has got the ability to save a game.
The Seawolves had upset on their minds when they struck first at 14:17 of the first period on defenseman Shane Lovdahls second goal of the season. UND senior goalie Jean-Philippe Lamoureux stopped forward Jared Tutons initial shot from the left of the net, but Lovdahl pounced on the rebound and fired in the puck to give the Seawolves a 1-0 lead.
The Sioux evened it up with 1:33 left in the first period on a highlight reel goal by junior center T.J. Oshie, a first round draft choice of the St. Louis Blues. Cutting from the left circle into the slot, Oshie got one defender down, caused a second defender to fall and then held the puck until Christianson went down. He then roofed his shot to knot the score 1-1.
UND took advantage of its fourth power play of the period on Trupps goal to grab a 2-1 lead. Sioux sophomore defenseman Chay Genoway carried the puck into the UAA zone and then chipped a pass to Trupp streaking down the right wing. He moved the puck from his backhand to his forehand, cut to the net and fired the puck top shelf to give UND the lead at the 16:22 mark.
Chay brought the puck up ice with speed, gained the blue line with speed and that allowed Evan just to keep skating, said UND coach Dave Hakstol. He didnt have to break stride. It was kind of a fearless play for him to take that puck in full stride and take it to the net.
Junior forward Andrew Kozek scored the insurance marker for UND at 7:21 of the third period. From the left circle, Oshie attempted a centering pass to defenseman Taylor Chorney coming down the slot. Chorney tipped the puck on goal, but the rebound off Christiansons stick save went directly to Kozek on the right side of the net. His ninth goal of the season put the Sioux up 3-1.
With just over four minutes left in the period, Shyiak called timeout and then pulled Christianson for the extra attacker. Although the Seawolves played for nearly three minutes with a man advantage, the Sioux didnt give UAA any quality chances and held on for the conference win.
We kind of hung around and hung around, but I thought they (UND) pretty much controlled the whole game, Shyiak said. I didnt think we competed well or executed. Sometimes those are signs of a youthful team. I think part of that for a young team was that we didnt handle the pressure well in this type of environment.
Hakstol says theres no secret to UNDs winning streak.
I like the way were playing. Were playing hard, he said. Theres nothing fancy about our game. It comes down to 20 guys working hard and doing it over a 60-minute period. We just have to keep doing that.
The two teams meet for the second game of the series at 7:05 p.m. Saturday in Engelstad Arena.