MADISON, Wis. — In the first game of the Midwest Regional Saturday afternoon, No. 1 seed North Dakota cruised to a 5-1 win over Princeton behind starring performances by Jean-Philippe Lamoureux and Ryan Duncan.
The heavily-favored Fighting Sioux got 38 saves from Lamoureux — permitting UND (27-10-4) to overcome a striking 39-18 advantage for Princeton (21-14-0) in shots on goal — and Duncan scored a natural hat trick to cement the win after Andrew Kozek opened the scoring for North Dakota.
“He was our best player, our best two-way player tonight,” said North Dakota head coach Dave Hakstol of Duncan.
Duncan was hardly the only thing on the Tigers’ minds, of course.
“You have to watch out for every one of their players,” said Princeton captain Mike Moore, “because they’re so talented up front.”
The talent included Lamoureux, who made saves on mostly innocuous shots early, but progressively harder ones late until UND pulled sufficiently far ahead to take the pressure off.
“I know my role on the team is to make timely saves,” said Lamoureux. “I just wanted to go out and play my game.”
“I thought Phil, from the drop of the puck, gave us that stability back there,” said Hakstol after complimenting Princeton’s play.
The opening minutes were relatively even, with neither team generating serious opportunities. Five minutes into the first, UND had the first decent scoring chances on swipes by Brad Miller and T.J. Oshie, but neither got good wood and the game remained scoreless.
After 12 minutes of clean but uneventful play, a trip by Mark Magnowski put the Fighting Sioux on the first power play of the game, and UND broke through with a goal by Andrew Kozek. Off a diagonal pass from Chay Genoway, Kozek turned and fired far-side on Kalemba at 13:39 for his 17th goal of the season.
Taylor Fedun went off for hooking Chris VandeVelde down in front of the Princeton net moments later, but with UND threatening to extend its lead the Tigers clamped down on the penalty kill to hold the deficit to one.
In the final minute of the first period, Lamoureux was finally tested on a Lee Jubinville one-timer and a scramble off a loose puck, but the Grand Forks, N.D., native turned both chances away to maintain the UND lead after 20 minutes.
Duncan was next to try to double the Fighting Sioux’s edge, but the 2007 Hobey Baker winner was turned aside by Kalemba on a breakaway opportunity six minutes into the second.
Princeton captain Mike Moore went off for holding eight minutes after that, but the Tigers had a shorthanded chance when Magnowski intercepted a puck in front of Lamoureux and fired on net from point-blank range, collected the rebound and tried again.
But the ‘keeper was up to the task, and just as the penalty expired, Duncan showed the form that won him the 2007 Hobey Baker Award. Parked low in the right faceoff circle, Duncan took a pass from Oshie and simply outwaited Kalemba, finally firing a wrister over the goalie’s glove.
“It was a fantastic play by ‘Osh,’” said Duncan. “He just made a great saucer pass over a couple of sticks.”
“I don’t know if [Duncan] had it in mind to shoot,” said Princeton head coach Guy Gadowsky, “but he saw that Zane dropped.”
The junior’s 15th goal of the year, technically a five-on-five tally, came at 16:18 and put the Sioux up 2-0 after two periods despite a 15-5 Princeton advantage in shots on goal during the middle frame.
“It’s not going to count as a power-play goal in the box, but it was,” said Gadowsky. UND went 2-for-4 Saturday on the man-advantage, 3-for-4 if Duncan’s pseudo-PPG were counted.
A Tiger power play that carried over into the third period was fruitless despite a shot off a pipe and a Matt Arhontas chance after squeezing between defenders, after which an interference call against the Tigers’ Brett Wilson put UND on its fourth power play.
Duncan was the goalscorer once again. He took a pass from Ryan Martens after the Fighting Sioux worked the puck around the offensive zone, wound up and ripped a shot from the right faceoff dot that beat Kalemba to give North Dakota a three-goal edge at 8:13.
The rest was academic, although Princeton kept the pressure on until pulling Kalemba with over five minutes left. Duncan promptly deposited the puck from just inside the blue line for the hat trick, and when Princeton emptied the net again, Genoway flipped the puck the length of the ice and in.
The Tigers did ruin Lamoureux’s shutout bid with 33 seconds left on a goal by Cam MacIntyre, but that was all the damage they were able to do.
North Dakota moves into the Midwest Regional final Sunday against the winner of the regional’s second semifinal, either Denver or Wisconsin. Regardless of the outcome, it then puts a WCHA team in the Frozen Four.
Princeton’s 2007-08 season, meanwhile, ends after its second-ever ECAC Hockey tournament title and NCAA bid, with the first having occurred in 1998. The Tigers’ 21 wins this season set a school record.