GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Neither injuries nor illness nor Michigan Tech could slow down North Dakota as the Fighting Sioux extended their unbeaten streak to 18 games with a 4-0 win over the visiting Huskies at Ralph Engelstad Arena.
Taking a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three WCHA playoff series, UND coach Dave Hakstol was all business after the second-rank Sioux improved to 24-8-4.
We had a pretty good effort for most of the 60 minutes, he said. Thats all it is. Its one game and we had good intensity and a good performance for one game. Its a three game series.
UND junior center T.J. Oshies status was questionable right until game time. Sophomore defenseman Chay Genoway returned to the lineup after missing most of three games with an arm injury. Freshman forward Evan Trupp, who leads the team in game winning goals, is out indefinitely with a leg injury.
We waited until warm-ups, Oshie said of his pre-game status. I didnt know if I was going to play or not, but I felt really good out there and I decided to stay. Coach Hakstol left it up to me. I felt like I could play.
Last Saturday, Oshie left the game against St. Cloud State after his first shift and played only one shift in the second period. Whether he and Genoway would play against MTU was the question of the week. Both played, and both had an impact, Oshie with a goal and an assist and Genoway with two assists.
Neither one was tremendously dynamic tonight, but they were both very good, said Hakstol. I thought they both did a real good, solid job.
Sioux goalie Jean-Philippe Lamoureux recorded his sixth shutout of the season. He stopped 14 shots and helped hold the Huskies 0-6 on the power play.
Phil continued what hes done for us throughout the year, Hakstol said. I thought he had good focus tonight. When he needed to make a save, whether it was routine save or one of the big saves he made, he was there.
UND cashed in on two of its six power play opportunities, including the game-winner by forward Ryan Duncan at 5:25 of the first period.
The power plays huge in post-season play, Duncan said. Its a good thing to have our special teams rolling. Weve been struggling here and there through the season. Hopefully, this is a positive sign of things to come.
Last week following a pair of low scoring ties against SCSU, Hakstol revealed that illness had kept players out of practice and robbed them of energy.
Wed hoped as we got through the middle portion of the week that we were getting out of a little bit of the funk we were in with the flu bug that had his us, he said. Hopefully, thats the case. It looked like it tonight.
UND outshot MTU 14-0 in the first period and went up 1-0 at 5:25 on a power play goal by Duncan, last seasons Hobey Baker winner. Left alone in the right circle, Duncan rifled a wrister short side past MTU goalie Michael-Lee Teslak.
Although UND dominated play and made it difficult for MTU to move the puck through the neutral zone, Lamoureux got some help when the Huskies John Schwarz rang a shot off the post. However, UND dominated the scoring opportunities.
In the second period, MTU managed seven shots on goal, but the Sioux continued to dominate, at times controlling play in the Huskies zone for long stretches. UND went up 3-0 on two goals 49 seconds apart.
They scored two goals back-to-back and playing on the road, the crowd gets going, said MTU coach Jamie Russell. You cant give up back-to-back goals like that, and that certainly was a backbreaker.
At the 8:21 mark, a pass from the right corner from Duncan found Oshie alone in front of Teslak. He fired the puck in five-hole to make it a 2-0 game.
At 9:10, UNDs fourth line struck for a goal when freshman Jake Marto — playing forward for the first time this season — hit sophomore center Darcy Zajac with a centering pass from behind the net. Teslak stopped the point-blank shot, but the puck deflected back into the crease and bounced in off the goalies stick, giving Zajac his second goal of the season.
It ended up hitting our guys stick and it bounced off me and then in, Teslak said. It was kind of an unfortunate bounce.
UND forward Andrew Kozek scored his team-leading 16th goal of the season on the power play at 6:58 of the third period. Junior forward Brad Miller saucered a pass between MTU defenders that sent Kozek in alone on Teslak. He pulled the puck to his backhand and shot the puck between the goalies pads to close out the scoring.
Stifling defense has become UNDs trademark. The Huskies, held to 14 shots for the game, didnt have a shot on goal in the first period.
They just do a great job of blocking out, MTU captain Jimmy Kerr said of the Sioux defense. Its really hard to get in front of their net. They also do a really good job of blocking shots in front of their net.
Kerr said that will have to change if MTU is to win game two on Saturday.
We just have to go to the net hard and find ways to get in front of Lamoureux, he said. We have to find ways to get in his face and get him rattled a little bit and get a dirty goal, an ugly goal — any goal.
MTU and UND will meet at 7:05 p.m. Saturday in Engelstad Arena for the second game of the WCAH playoff series.