DULUTH, Minn. — Minnesota-Duluths potent power play didnt connect Friday night, and the Bulldogs didnt get a point from its top guns in an entertaining Western Collegiate Hockey Association showdown with North Dakota at the DECC.
When you mix in an impressive second period by the third ranked Fighting Sioux the result was a 4-2 North Dakota win before a crowd of 5,057, many wearing green. No. 12 UMD saw a three game win streak end.
Trailing 1-0 after one period, the Fighting Sioux scored the only three goals of the second period and got away from UMD. North Dakota pushed an unbeaten streak to 2-0-1, which was preceded by a three game losing streak.
In those three losses we got lackadaisical. We read too much into what was in the newspaper and the polls, said North Dakota sophomore winger Jason Gregoire, who had two goals. We got back to playing better. [Friday] we took care of the puck, we didnt take many penalties, we scored a power-play goal and we had all four lines rolling.
Duluth has a good, tenacious team with a lot of skilled players, who had chances, but after being down by just a goal after the first period, we figured we werent that bad off.
UMD, 6-3 at home, took a 1-0 lead at 8:32 of the first period when Drew Akins finished a 3-on-2 break at the right circle, getting past goalie Brad Eidsness.
In the second period, North Dakota led in shots on goal 16-5, while UMD took the only three penalties, and the Fighting Sioux found some energy after taking advantage of a turnover. UMD goalie Kenny Reiter looked to move the puck from behind his net and only found North Dakota center Darcy Zajac alone on the right side. Zajacs quick shot beat Reiter back to the net and it was 1-1 at 4:44 of the second.
Sophomore defenseman Ben Blood smacked a shot through traffic with 6:27 left in the period and the puck trickled underneath Reiter. On a power play, Chris VandeVelde made a deft pass from behind the net to Gregoire and it was 3-1 with 64 seconds remaining.
We came out flatfooted [for the second period] and it showed. We had a lapse, said UMD winger Kyle Schmidt. Much of the rest of the game, the effort was there and we felt we had a good third period.
In the final 20 minutes, UMD outshot North Dakota 16-7 (North Dakota led for the game 36-31), and Schmidts fifth goal of the season brought the Bulldogs within 3-2 with 16 minutes to play.
The ever-shifting momentum was on UMDs side, but Eidsness led the top-ranked defense in the WCHA for all games in thwarting two power plays. He turned away Schmidt with about five minutes left on a good save. Gregoire’s second goal came into an empty net with 53 seconds to play after Reiter was pulled.
A lot of guys in our lineup gave second efforts. In the second period we moved the puck, did well transitioning and had time in the offensive zone. We took advantage of a mistake to get ourselves going, said North Dakota coach Dave Hakstol. But these were two good teams making good plays both ways.
Bulldogs Jack Connolly, Justin Fontaine, Rob Bordson and Mike Connolly were all held without a point and UMD was 0-of-4 on power plays after having a man-advantage goal in seven straight games.
When North Dakota scored its first goal, they went one way and we went the other. That ended up being the difference in the game. If you throw out the second period, it was a pretty even, said UMD coach Scott Sandelin.
UMD (9-5-1 overall, 6-4-1 in the WCHA) and UND (9-4-2 and 6-4-1) are tied for third in the WCHA with Wisconsin entering todays 7:07 p.m. rematch.