GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Usually when a team scores seven goals in a game, the eighth is merely icing on the finished cake.
When Nebraska Omaha senior center Joey Martin scored on a breakaway at 13:47 of the third period, the goal not only gave him the first hat trick of his collegiate career, but it also destroyed any hope of a rally by North Dakota.
The Mavericks (13-8-2 overall, 10-5-2 in the WCHA) went on to beat the second-ranked Fighting Sioux 8-4 (17-7-2, 12-5-0) before 11,845 fans at Ralph Engelstad Arena.
“Obviously it’s a big win for our team,” Martin said. “We really haven’t had as much success as we’d like these past few games. To come in here in an atmosphere like this against a great team and get a win is huge.”
The win over WCHA-leading UND gave UNO coach Dean Blais a happy homecoming victory in his first regular season game in Grand Forks since leaving UND in 2004 after 10 years and two national championships. But he downplayed beating his former team, which is coached by Dave Hakstol, his former assistant.
“A win anywhere is good, obviously,” he said. “It doesn’t matter where you’re at. To come in and beat a team like North Dakota is something special.”
UND’s downfall came in the second period when a succession of penalties led to a series of UNO power plays, one 5-on-4, two 5-on-3 and one 6-on-3 when the Mavericks had an extra attack on the ice during a delayed call.
“I would say it was immaturity,” said Sioux captain Chay Genoway, attempting to explain the costly discipline meltdown. “They were all penalties. I think sometimes when you go down 5 on 4 you assume you can do the extra whack and play a little harder and stuff. You can’t hook, you can’t whack, you can’t give the extra shot just because you’re down one man.”
If the Sioux learned anything from their slow first-period start against Minnesota a week ago, they forgot it against UNO. Once again, they fell behind 2-0, thanks to strong play by the Mavericks’ special teams.
UNO got on the board with the man advantage at the 11:43 mark. Martin notched his first goal when with man advantage when his shot from the point changed direction through traffic and slid in past UND goalie Aaron Dell to give the Mavericks the lead.
The Sioux went on the power play with a chance to even it up. Instead, freshman defenseman Mike Young put the Mavericks up 2-0 with his shorthanded goal at 13:32. Ambroz carried the puck into UND’s zone 3-on-2 before feeding Young coming down the slot. His quick wrister cleanly beat Dell.
With 1:05 left in the period, UND forward Mario Lamoureux and UNO defenseman dropped the gloves. The officials broke it up before much was accomplished. Each got 5 minutes for fighting and a game disqualification.
In the second period, a goal by UND Genoway at 3:36 made it a 2-1 game. But that’s as close as the Sioux would get as they then began a parade to the penalty box that led to four straight UNO goals and Dell getting the hook.
Freshman forward Ryan Walters put the Mavericks up 3-1 with his power play goal at 6:23. Martin got his second tally 5-on-3 at 10:01, which brought Sioux junior goalie Brad Eidsness in to relieve Dell. Eidsness would fare no better as senior forward Rich Purslow scored at 11:05 with the three-man advantage to make it 5-1 UNO.
Mavericks freshman forward Matt White made it 6-1 at 12:21 with another two-man advantage tally and freshman center Brock Montpetit scored even strength at 14:06 to give UNO a six-goal lead after two periods.
“We knew we had to capitalize on our power play chances because this team in this atmosphere, once they get a few goals, they’re going to get momentum, and they’re a pretty dominant team,” Martin said.
Between periods, UND senior Jake Marto said the team tried to focus on having a strong third period to build some momentum for Saturday’s game.
“It was obviously one of the worst periods of the year for us,” said UND senior Jake Marto. “You have to forget about, move on and try to have a good third.”
The Sioux did just that, tallying three straight goals in the final stanza to close to 7-4 with 7:40 remaining. Senior forward Evan Trupp got his 10th goal of the season at 3:30 and Genoway scored unassisted at 7:27. Jason Gregoire’s power-play goal at 12:20 made it a 7-4 game.
“North Dakota was getting momentum,” Martin said. “They started scoring a few goals and they had the crowd behind them. We started kind of hitting the panic button.”
But Martin’s hat trick goal 13:47 restored the four-goal lead and took the wind out of UND’s sails. Genoway tried to knock a puck down with his glove at the UND blue line, but it fell behind him. Martin pounced on the opportunity, went in alone on Eidsness and stuffed in his eight goal of the season to make the final score 8-4.
“He deserved it because he’s been our leader all year,” Blais said of the UNO captain’s 4-point night.
Hakstol took the blame for the loss, refusing to single out any one aspect the team’s game.
“We weren’t ready to go; we lost a hockey game out of that,” he said. “There were a lot of bits and pieces and parts that weren’t very good. The ultimate result is that it cost us a hockey game. It’s two points. Tomorrow night is a pretty important night.”
The two teams will meet at 7:05 p.m. Saturday at Engelstad Arena for the second game of the series.