HOUGHTON, Mich. — The host Michigan Tech Huskies needed a stronger first period after struggling on Friday night against the No. 17 North Dakota Fighting Sioux. Despite that start, the Sioux came away with the win, 5-0, at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena.
“The difference (tonight) was the second period,” said Sioux head coach Dave Hakstol. “The late power-play goal gave us the chance to build the lead.”
It didn’t take the Huskies (5-18-3 overall, 1-14-3 WCHA) long to get into the game, as senior center Alex Gagne won the opening faceoff. Fellow senior forwards Derek Kitti and Ryan Angelow did a great job killing off the first Sioux power play chance, keeping the strong play going.
“I thought we were much better off the start (tonight),” said Huskies’ coach Jamie Russell. “I think the gas tank was empty late in the game.”
The Sioux (14-10-2 overall, 9-5-2 WCHA) managed to get the lead at 7:32 when forward Matt Frattin netted his ninth of the season after blowing past Huskies’ assistant captain Geoff Kinrade and beating Huskies’ netminder Rob Nolan with a quick shot just under the crossbar. Sioux captain
Ryan Duncan picked up the only assist on the play.
Sophomore winger Bennett Royer and junior winger Ryan Bunger nearly evened the game for the Huskies after Bunger’s shot rebounded out to Royer, but he couldn’t quite corral the puck.
The Huskies had another golden opportunity to even the score when Gagne carried the puck into the offensive zone before feeding freshman winger Alex MacLeod. MacLeod’s shot banked off the boards behind the net and to Baker crashing the net. Baker’s shot just caught Sioux goaltender Brad Eidsness’ left leg pad, keeping the Sioux in the lead.
Needing a better second period, the Sioux jumped all over the Huskies from the opening faceoff, firing 15 shots at Nolan. Perhaps Nolan’s best save of the period came on a wraparound attempt by forward Brad Malone. Nolan frustrated Sioux forwards by consistently steering Sioux shots to the corners instead of out in front of his net.
“You just keep trying to put pucks on net,” said Hakstol. “We got a couple of breaks around the net, and that made the difference for us.”
On their third power play of the night, the Sioux extended their lead to 2-0 when Jake Marto’s shot from the left point sailed over the right shoulder of Nolan and into the net. Marto’s second of the year came on a broken play after taking a pass from Brad Miller. The goal, Marto’s third of the season, was also assisted by Evan Trupp.
The Huskies had two great opportunities to cut the Sioux lead in half early in the third when junior defenseman Eli Vlaisavljevich took a pass in the slot, but Eidsness came up with the save, both on the initial shot and the rebound by sophomore winger Jordan Baker.
“That’s a game-changing save,” said Hakstol. “Key saves at key times are such a big part of a goaltender’s job.”
Forward Brent Davidson extended the Sioux lead to three with his second goal of the season at 7:24. After taking a pass from forward Brad Malone, Davidson squeezed a shot over the leg of Nolan.
The Sioux struck again in a four-on-four situation as Frattin notched his second of the game. The goal, which came at 14:20, was assisted by Malone. Frattin got to the net after beating a fallen Vlaisavljevich.
Marto scored the fifth and final Sioux goal on the same four-on-four situation just 30 seconds later with a long shot from the left point. Defenseman Derrick LaPointe assisted on the goal.
The Sioux finished one-for-seven on the power play while holding the Huskies to 0-for-5.
Nolan made 28 stops in his 13th loss of the season. Eidsness made 14 for his 14th win of the year.