GRAND FORKS, N.D. — North Dakota senior defenseman and team captain Chay Genoway received a thunderous ovation from Fighting Sioux fans as he returned to action for the first time in more than 10 months in an exhibition game against the University of Manitoba.
“It was obviously a pretty good feeling just to be out there with the guys,” said Genoway, who hadn’t suited up for the Sioux since last Nov. 13. “A little nervous, I guess, at the beginning, but as the game wore on, I got a little more comfortable, so that was good.”
UND exploded for three goals in the second period — including back-to-back power-play goals — to down the visiting Bisons 5-2 at Ralph Engelstad Arena. Sioux senior forward Matt Frattin scored on a five-on-three at 14:16 and senior center Brad Malone at 15:11 with the man advantage to give UND a commanding 5-1 lead.
In the first period, Manitoba defenseman Dane Crowley beat UND goalie Brad Eidsness with a deflected shot from the point. The power-play goal at 3:38 gave the Bisons a 1-0 lead. Sophomore center Corban Knight tied it at 14:20 when he batted a puck out of the air. It hit Manitoba goalie Steve Christie and trickled in. Junior forward Jason Gregoire gave UND the lead for good at 17:25 when he capitalized on a two-on-one rush with freshman defenseman Derek Forbort.
“It seemed like the more we simplified our game, the better we got,” Genoway said. “I thought we were playing a little bit of pond hockey, a little summer hockey shinny out there. We were trying to be a little bit too fancy.”
The second period started with Gregoire assisting on UND’s third goal. Christie stopped his wraparound attempt, but junior forward Brett Hextall hammered home the rebound to give UND at 3-1 lead at 1:11 mark.
The Sioux then took advantage of Manitoba’s penalty trouble, cashing in on the two-man advantage when Frattin’s rocket from high in the slot found the back of the net at 14:16.
“He’s got one of the best shots in college hockey, and we need him to use it as much as he can,” Gregoire said of Frattin. “If he keeps shooting, he’ll be scoring a lot of goals and, hopefully, we’ll be winning a lot of games.”
Malone followed that up less than a minute later, taking a feed from Knight and beating Christie five-hole. UND went 2-8 with the man advantage.
UND sophomore goalie Aaron Dell replaced Eidsness (15 saves on 16 shots) about halfway through the second period. At 9:18 of the third period, Manitoba forward Mike Hellyer unleashed a slap shot from the left circle that clanged just inside the far post to make the final score 5-2.
Genoway’s season ended just nine games into 2009 when a hit to the head gave him a concussion and post-concussion syndrome. He decided to take a medical redshirt and return for his fifth year at UND. Although Manitoba kept him off the score sheet, UND coach Dave Hakstol was pleased with Genoway’s performance.
“We got him in the range of 21 or 22 minutes of ice time, and I though he handled that well,” Hakstol said. “He did a real good job for his first 60 minutes back.”
Hakstol said that UND, which is picked in preseason polls to win the WCHA, has work to do before its season-opener at Alaska Anchorage on Friday at the Kendall Hockey Classic. The Sioux also play Alaska on Saturday in the tournament.
“We did a lot of good things, a lot of good individual things,” he said of the team’s performance. “There were some flashes of team chemistry and good team play, but nothing really sustained. That’s probably to be expected. We’ll take the good things out of it, go to work this week and try to improve on some of the soft areas.”