GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Having four regulars out of the lineup didn’t stop No. 9 North Dakota from handing second-ranked Minnesota-Duluth a 4-2 loss, the Bulldogs first defeat of the season.
The Fighting Sioux were without the services of defensemen Andrew MacWilliam and Derek Forbort (illness); forward Carter Rowney (injury); and center Brad Malone, who served a one-game suspension for his hit last Saturday on Denver’s Jesse Martin. Martin remains hospitalized in Minneapolis with a serious neck injury.
“It was a good team effort,” said Sioux freshman forward Derek Rodwell, who notched his third goal of the season. “Guys getting into the lineup that normally haven’t this year brought a little extra energy. It definitely helped us along in tonight’s game. There was extra enthusiasm that we might have been missing before.”
UND senior forward Matt Frattin’s game-winning goal at 5:05 of the third period gave the Sioux a 3-1 lead. But they had to withstand a UMD rally when Bulldogs senior forward Justin Fontaine scored on the power play at 15:49 to make it a one-goal game.
Unfortunately for UMD, Fontaine was whistled for shooting the puck after the whistle with 1:37 left and given a game misconduct penalty. The Sioux took advantage of the situation, icing the victory with an empty net power-play goal by sophomore Corban Knight with 11 seconds remaining.
“We definitely felt we had a little momentum going after our power play goal,” said UMD junior center Travis Oleksuk. “We were feeling good and hoping to get some pressure on them 6 on 5. Unfortunately, that penalty with 1:30 left kind of deflated us a little bit.”
UND limited the high-powered Bulldogs to 16 shots on goal. Coach Dave Hakstol wasn’t surprised by the team’s effort, despite the missing players.
“There was nothing spectacular tonight,” he said. “There was just a bunch of guys who worked together, played hard together and won a game. It was a different-looking lineup, and it will be a little different again tomorrow night. But it’s what you need to have. You’ve got to go in and do the job.”
Oleksuk provided a similar assessment of UND.
“This is a team that has a lot more depth than the other teams we’ve played, and they definitely showed it tonight,” he said.
Rodwell got the Sioux on the board first at 2:22 of the second period. UMD freshman goalie Aaron Crandall couldn’t control a shot by forward Evan Trupp from along the left boards. Rodwell swatted the puck out of the air and into the net to give UND a 1-0 lead.
“It just kind of happened to bounce up in the air,” Rodwell said. “I got a pretty good whack at it, enough to get it in.”
Oleksuk answered for the Bulldogs at 16:25 of the second with the teams playing four aside. Sioux sophomore goalie Aaron Dell kicked out a rebound from a shot from the point, but the puck went straight to Oleksuk, who fired it in the open net.
But the Sioux regained the lead before the period ended with a power play goal Trupp at 17:57. With Crandall screened, his wrister from the top of the right circle slid in near side to put UND up 2-1.
“I wasn’t expecting it to go straight in,” Trupp said. “I was hoping for a rebound or a tip, but luckily enough, it went in.”
In the third, Frattin’s wrist shot through traffic from the slot got by Crandall to put UND up 3-1 at the 5:05 mark. Trupp noted that three of UND’s four goals were scored by getting traffic in front of the net.
The Bulldog’s made it a one-goal game again, completing a tic-tac-toe play from Mike Connolly to Jack Connolly to Fontaine at 15:49. But Fontaine’s penalty and Knight’s empty net goal with 11 seconds remaining gave UND a 4-2 win before 11,638 fans at Ralph Engelstad Arena.
The two teams will meet for the second game of the series at 7:05 p.m. Saturday at Engelstad Arena.