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College Hockey:
North Dakota edges Wisconsin

Gregoire scores only goal

— After a humbling weekend at the end of October, Derrick LaPoint not only wondered if his penalty kill was any good, but if the rest of his team was better than average.

For one night at least, the Fighting Sioux showed their assistant captain how a stifling defense can help pick up an average offensive performance.

After allowing five power-play goals in a weekend sweep at Maine three weeks back, No.10 North Dakota has been lights out ever since on the penalty kill, and they had no problem shutting out the generator on Wisconsin’s Kohl Center, limiting No.13 Wisconsin to only five shots on six disjointed power plays in a 1-0 win Friday night.

“Tonight was a good confidence booster for our core and for our goaltending,” said LaPoint, who assisted on Jason Gregoire’s goal at 14:29 in the third period. “It’s easy to get up when you are playing top-end talent.”

North Dakota coach Dave Hakstol, in his team’s seventh game of a 12-game stretch against top 13 opponents, had been pleased with 90 percent of his team’s play, but was yearning for his squad to take it that extra 10 percent.

Hakstol didn’t get the complete effort he was probably looking for, especially with the Sioux (6-4-1, 5-2-0 WCHA) taking nine penalties for 40 minutes, but the rejuvenated penalty kill certainly fixed the transgressions.

Matching up against Wisconsin’s top power-play unit in the conference (30.9 percent), North Dakota had the Badgers scouted to a science, so much so that the visitors killed off two five-minute majors with relative ease.

“We take a lot of pride in our penalty kill,” said Gregoire of his team’s penalty kill, which is 18-for-19 (.947) over the last five games. “We can’t be taking that many penalties in a game, but when you kill penalties off like that, it gives you a lot of momentum and we can drive off it.”

A good penalty kill is only as good as the man between the pipes, and with junior Brad Eidsness struggling with a 79.3 percent save percentage, sophomore Aaron Dell kept an opponent at three goals or less for the fourth-straight game. Not only did Dell get his first shutout of the season, he rarely allowed a rebound.

“(Chances were) few and far between, I’ll give you that,” Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves said.

With North Dakota needing only one goal against a out-of-sorts Wisconsin (6-3-2, 3-2-2 WCHA), Gregoire caught the Badgers in a shift change by taking a pass off the boards and firing a shot that beat UW senior goalie Scott Gudmandson low for the game’s only tally.

“It was a game left up to the bounces,” Gregoire said. “Both teams like scoring and taking pride in their goaltending. In a 0-0 game, it comes down to one shot. It’s a game of bounces and we were lucky to come out on top today.”

That was virtually the only thing Gudmandson, who lost for only the second time at home in his career, couldn’t stop all evening, as he stonewalled captain Chay Genoway unmarked at the left circle with a glove save and secured many a bouncing puck on a rough sheet of ice.

“Other than (the goal), I thought I played pretty well,” said Gudmandson (24 saves).

With 10 freshmen on his roster, Eaves wanted to build up this weekend’s tilt as a championship atmosphere, a hard-hitting game best deserving to be played in March rather than mid-November.

However, the negative energy generated on the power play halted Wisconsin’s five-game unbeaten streak, caused a smattering of boos to rain down after one of many failed power-play attempts came to a frustrating conclusion at the end of the second period and the Badgers being held to only 16 shots for the first time since March 7, 2003.

For a visiting team still looking for consistency, it was a welcome reception.

“We were able to come out and play well against their system tonight,” LaPoint said. “Simple as that.”

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  • Jo_ot

    Wow are the sioux getting some tough roughing calls against them lately… Another guy w/ his head down and Hextall blows thru him, clean hit, and he gets a 5 and a game.. The refs need to start putting the whistle away on clean hits!!!

  • Chuck

    As a UW fan, that was unquestionably the lowest energy, worst played game that I have seen in 8 years. One could have surmised that UW threw the game. Pathetic performance! We should have got our money refunded.

  • Biff

    The Sioux are thugs – always have been, always will be.

    • Arctic Man

      Biff, what a quaint name. Your use of superlatives (I will define for your dimwittedness, words such as always, which you use twice) explains your description of the Sioux and their style of play. Perhaps tennis would be a game more to your liking. No, I take that back. Tennis requires the ability to use mathematics.

  • HeavyD

    Biff, that’s all you got? The Sioux are thugs? It’s men’s hockey, not women’s ice dancing. The Gleason hit, although hard, was not worthy of a 5 minute major…it shouldn’t of even been a penalty. I hope Simonelli is ok, but I watched the hit about a dozen times in slow motion and here are the irrefutable facts:

    1) The puck was on Simonelli’s stick and he had full control.
    2) Gleason made shoulder to shoulder contact, hip to hip contact.
    3) Simonelli took the worst of it.

    The ‘checking from behind’ call was only a result of the violence of the impact and Simonelli going into the boards. Glad to see him skate later, but that was a total b.s. 5 min major and good, hard hitting hockey.

    Next…the 5 min on Hextall…also clean. These coaches should be the ones getting thrown out for having players that put themselves at risk by skating with their heads down.

    Go SIOUX!!!!!

  • Bob

    HeavyD? Arctic Man? Those are just as stupid – I guess that’s what we can expect from fat, drunk, and stupid hicks from ND. Figures

    • Arctic Man

      Your comments make no sense, as does your knowledge of college hockey. Your name calling is superb though. You left out the part where I look like a monkey and I smell like one too.

  • Anonymous

    Thugs? UND plays an NHL-style game. In other words, they play hockey the way it is supposed to be played… LIKE MEN! Other teams need to learn to play with their heads up. Refs need to learn to when to blow the whistle and recognize a CLEAN hit. Sioux players need to let up just a bit but still play like MEN. The rest of the college hockey world needs to catch up.

  • Doug Woog

    ummmm Mr. Worgull, I believe you mean to say that Gegoire beat Gudmandson with a top cheddar snipe( like cheesy Parise always does), not low as you stated in your post. -xoxoxoxo the Woog.

  • HockeyFan

    Two more 5 minute majors for the Sioux. Wow. I like how you Sioux fans defend your style of play, which is probably the cheapest in the league. I guess when you are used to seeing it, it becomes normal to you. Please continue to play the way you do and you will go nowhere. Good Luck.

  • Draker

    I can’t believe how soft the Badgers were last night, hopefully they took note of how real men play hockey!!!!

  • eggs412

    I have been involved with hockey for the past 25 years of my life; as a player and a coach. As a fan of hockey I sat down and planned to watched a good college hockey game last night. The game I turned on and watched was not a hockey game, it was ice dancing. North Dakota could not hit anybody on the ice without getting a free ride to the box. The two 5 minute majors were both a joke to the game of hockey. Both hits, granted hard, where legal and not deserving of the calls. The refs took control of the game against the Sioux and had them skateing uphill the whole game. I was happy to see North Dakota win after the horriable officiating. I hope the WCHA takes a peek at the refs and maybe sends them back to Bantams.