GRAND FORKS, N.D. — North Dakota got back on the winning track, scoring three times in the third period to down visiting Ohio State 4-1 in the second game of the Subway Holiday Classic at Ralph Engelstad Arena.
The Fighting Sioux came into the tournament having lost three straight and were swept in Denver by the Pioneers the previous weekend. Home ice and a friendly crowd seemed to be just what the doctor ordered.
It was fun getting back home, said junior forward Evan Trupp, who set up Brad Malones game-winning goal with a sensational pass from behind the net. I think a lot of guys had a little more energy. Theres a little more on the line when youre in the rut we were in.
UND coach Dave Hakstol said that overall, he felt the team gave a good effort through 60 minutes.
It feels good to play a good, solid hockey game, he said. We havent done that over that last couple of weekends. Weve been a little too sporadic.
After a scoreless first period, UND got on the board at 4:30 of the second on a goal by senior center Darcy Zajac. Sophomore defenseman Cory Fienhage blocked an OSU clearing attempt at the blue line and then dished the puck to Zajac at the dot in the left circle. He fired a wrister that beat junior goalie Dustin Carlson short side.
Told that the Sioux are 15-1-2 when Zajac scores a goal, Hakstol said, The most important thing about Darcy is the consistency of his play. Hes been pretty much like clockwork this year. We know what were going to get out of him.
Having lost three straight games by a goal, the Sioux were far from comfortable heading into the final stanza.
Going into a third period in a 1-0 game, you kind of go Here we go again, Eidsness said. But I think we really pulled through and maybe broke through that mental block when we were able to generate some offense.
The shift after UNDs Brad Malone was denied by Carlson when he split the Buckeyes defense, the junior center received a feed from Trupp that put the Sioux up 2-0 at the 4:24 mark.
I went to the net with my stick on the ice, and he made an unreal pass, Malone said. It was an empty net for me.
I heard him call for the puck, so I knew he was there, and I was just waiting for the goalie to turn his head the other way, Trupp said. Once he did, I just dished it and he (Malone) made a good play burying it.
OSU made it a one-goal game at 8:18 when sophomore center Zac Dalpe was credited for a goal that appeared to deflect in off UND defenseman Jake Martos skate. After a review, the goal stood.
The puck kind of rolled and handcuffed me a little bit, Eidsness said. But thats the way it goes sometimes.
After being victimized by reviewed goals in their last three losses, Hakstol said the Sioux werent dismayed by an unlucky bounce that might have changed the momentum.
Things havent come easily for us the past three weekends, but there was none of that, he said. I think it was evident in the kinds of shifts we had after that goal went in the net. We went back to work.
At 11:25, Sioux freshman forward Danny Kristo notched his third goal of the season and restored UNDs two-goal lead. From the right circle, Kristo one-timed a feed from center Chris VandeVelde to make it 3-1.
UND closed out the scoring at 13:49 with a power play tally by sophomore forward Brett Hextall, who one-timed a pass from Marto. Carlson juggled the puck, which fell out of his glove and over the goal line.
We had opportunities, said OSU coach John Markell. I thought when we made it 2-1, we had a chance. It comes down to guys having to make plays at that time, and we didnt make enough plays to score goals.
After being swept the previous weekend by CCHA opponent Ferris State, Markell felt his team gave a better effort.
I thought we played better, but obviously its not good enough, he said. I still have some players not playing up to their potential. Right now, we have one line thats scoring and nobody else.
Fourth ranked UND improves to 8-4-1 (5-4-1 WCHA) and will take on the top-ranked Miami RedHawks at 7:35 p.m. Saturday at Engelstad Arena in the final game of the tournament. OSU falls to 5-9-1 (4-5-1 CCHA) and will play Bemidji State in Engelstad Arena at 4:05 p.m. Saturday.