College Hockey:
Gregoire nets two goals to spark Sioux victory

Kristo power-play goal gets Sioux going

— Nebraska Omaha coach Dean Blais was smiling, even though he had just seen his Mavericks give up a third-period lead and lose 4-2 to North Dakota.

“If someone had said that you’re going to play North Dakota four times and beat them twice, I absolutely would have taken it,” he explained.

For UND, which suffered an embarrassing 8-4 loss Friday, it was a must-win situation if the Fighting Sioux hoped to stay near the top of the WCHA standings. Even though it took more than 54 minutes for the Sioux to gain the lead, they prevailed in a game that saw five goals scored in a span of just over six minutes late in the third period.

UND, 18-7-2 overall and 13-5-0 in league play, is tied for second place in the conference with Minnesota-Duluth. UNO, 13-9-2 overall and 10-6-2 in the WCHA, moved into fourth place in the league standings.

“Tonight was extremely important for us,” said UND coach Dave Hakstol. “The last 24 hours have been a real test for our team. There’s no easy way out of where we were last night.”

UND senior forward Evan Trupp, whose breakaway goal energized the team, said, “As a team, coming off a night like last night, we really wanted to win and prove to ourselves that we’re a better team than that.”

The Sioux played one of their better opening periods of the past two weeks, but couldn’t get the puck past UNO goalie John Faulkner. Although UND took three penalties, the Sioux generated more chances on UNO’s power plays than the Mavericks did. In the second half of the period, UNO’s forecheck began to pin the Sioux in their own end. Still, UND won the shots on goal battle 9-5.

In the second period, the Sioux had 44 seconds of five-on-three power play, but couldn’t capitalize. Their best opportunity came when Faulkner couldn’t control the rebound on a shot close in and the puck lay in the crease with the goalie down on the ice. UNO freshman defenseman Mike Young kicked it out before a Sioux player could get a stick on it.

“We had the season series on the line and both teams were playing maybe a little bit defensive-minded, which is maybe why there weren’t as many shots or chances as there was last night,” Trupp said. “Both teams were able to compete really hard tonight and kept it a little bit closer.”

UNO got on the scoreboard at 4:10 of the third period with its second of three short-handed goals on the weekend. UND senior defenseman Chay Genoway attempted to hold the puck in at the blue line, but Mavericks sophomore forward Terry Broadhurst chipped it past him and went in alone on Sioux goalie Aaron Dell. He buried the opportunity to give UNO a 1-0 lead.

“It’s a little demoralizing, but in such a game, emotions are running high and you can’t get down,” said junior forward Jason Gregoire. “Hockey’s a game of highs and lows. With the emotions, you can’t get too high or too low. I think the guys did a really good job of managing that and staying focused on the job at hand.”

The Sioux could get little going offensively, but then at the 12:55 mark, the flood gates opened. Trupp blocked a UNO shot at the blue line and was off on a breakaway with two Mavericks in hot pursuit. He roofed the puck over Faulkner to knot it 1-1.

“I was able to block a shot and use my speed,” Trupp said. “Usually, I try to go for the five-hole shot, but I knew there was a guy on me, so I just wanted to get a shot.”

UNO defenseman Michael Young was called for hooking on the play. That meant UND remained on the power play because of a rule change made by the NCAA this season. The Sioux took full advantage and went up 2-1 at 14:26 when sophomore forward Danny Kristo beat Faulkner short side on a cross-ice pass from Corban Knight.

The Sioux extended their lead to 3-1 when a flip pass in the neutral zone by defenseman Ben Blood enabled junior forward Jason Gregoire to split the defense and score top shelf on Faulkner.

“People don’t know how tough it is to flip a puck up like that,” Gregoire said of Blood’s pass. “It might look easy, but he practiced that a lot during the week.

“He flipped it up and I was getting hooked all the way in,” he added. “I knew the goalie was kind of playing my backhand, so I tried to pull it as quick as I could and get it upstairs.”

UNO was again called for hooking before Gregoire scored, which put UND back on the power play.

However, the Mavericks notched their second short-handed goal of the night when Young came in two-on-one and beat Dell high short side. With 1:24 remaining, the Mavericks had suddenly cut UND’s lead to one goal. But with the Sioux still on the power play, Blais couldn’t get Faulkner off the ice for an extra attacker.

“I look forward to that stuff, sometimes when there’s three or four minutes left,” Blais said. “That was going through my head, finding a way.”

Gregoire made sure it didn’t matter. He gave UND a 4-2 lead with a power-play goal at 19:08. This time, a pass from Knight sent him in on Faulkner, and his backhander from the slot insured the win.

“After last night, for our team to come back and play like that, after going down one as well, it’s a big testament to our character and maturity,” Gregoire said.

Blais was pleased with the Mavericks’ play in the series after tying and losing to Bemidji State the previous weekend.

“When we settled down, I thought we carried the play at times,” he said. “Then you get up 1-0, they tie it, and there’s no panic. But North Dakota’s got a lot of skill, and you give them a little bit of a break, they’ll put it in the net.”

For Hakstol, the win put the Sioux back on track to improvement after disappointing performances against Robert Morris, Minnesota and UNO the past three weeks.

“It takes a great effort to get out of it and get back to the type of play that we want to play as a team,” he said. “Tonight was a nice step toward that. I thought a great character performance over the 60 minutes. It’s a good win to at least push us in the right direction.”

UND next travels to Colorado College for a two-game series Jan. 28-29. UNO has a nonconference series at home against Alabama-Huntsville Jan. 28-29.

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  • LincolnJim

    Up until the third, you knew that sound in Grand Forks was 11,000 people realizing their team was just totally exposed over the past month. Wish we could have held on, but there is zero fear going into North Dakota and playing them. No way UMD is not ranked ahead of them — they actually won both games. And in my opinion Denver is having just as good a season. Finally we’re seeing that this team has major flaws, especially special teams and I am pretty sure that in a series where the other team’s goalie stands on his head, ND is going to have a tough time getting out of the conference.

    • Siouxbetcha

      Major flaws? The Sioux haven’t been playing their best hockey lately. I think if they had major flaws, they wouldn’t have 18 wins playing the #1 SOS. But it just goes to show you, you can’t keep a good team down. I think the wake up call on Friday night is exactly what the Sioux needed to get back on track. They were winning games on talent alone and eventually a team like UM @ UNO can just outwork them. Coach Hak will right the ship and you’ll see the real Sioux in the next three months, Thanks for your concern on our post season. Its easy to throw stones when you have no post season expectations. By the way, UMD sweeping a team winless in their last 19 games isn’t going to boost their RPI a whole lot.

    • cossioux

      Well it is easy to talk about teams flaws (by the way, didn’t you just lose 2 to Quinnipiac and go winless last weekend at home vs. Bemiji St??), but we have 18 wins, are 2-1 vs UMD, #1 in SOS and have already played Wisc, Minn, Denver and UMD. Exposed? Seems to me that you are just looking for ways to justify losing a game. Come on back and post in early March after you’ve played St Cloud, Wisc, Denver and UMD……at that point we’ll see who has been exposed as both our records will speak for themselves.

  • Siouxinminny

    The Sioux do have flaws. The biggest flaw is not playing up to potential. UNO had 2 SHGs on Saturday! The first came on a boneheaded play by Genoway (he played poorly all game) that gave up a breakaway. The second was a 2-on-1. Hakstol broke up Blood and Genoway – not sure why. Malone took a stupid roughing penalty. As for Denver and Duluth beingi superior, they have to prove it on the ice and my money is still on the Sioux.

  • LincolnJim

    If ND loses two more games, both UMD and Denver will finish ahead. UNO isn’t top of conference potential yet, but no way you guys want to face us in the playoffs. You’ve already lost any potential home ice advantage — no one is afraid of going into your barn. If you don’t finish first, and you don’t end up winning the tournament, an at leage bid will be real tough. Oh and in terms of SOS, yeah, you guys are doing great last few weeks. This is looking like a trend

    • cossioux

      LincolnJim, you better get a hockey I.Q. before you post. SOS is what it is and ours is #1 in the nation right now and playing UNO did little to hurt it(this is also a major factor in tourney seeding). What are you even talking about with losing two more games and not getting a bid? Everyone in the WCHA has either 5 or 6 more series. You are saying no one at the top can lose 2 more games and get a tourney at large? Plain foolishness and if the past 20 years are any indication, plain wrong. Right now we have 13 wins (tops in the league by the way, and are 1 point off the lead). As for the trend, to what are you referring? the fact that we are 5-2 since Christmas with a 5-0 win at UMD?

      • Goalie Fan

        And if you look at who the Sioux play the next month is really doesnt look too bad for us. That is compared to Denver of Duluths schedule.. They have one more series between each other so its hard for me to see us falling out of the top 2 in the WCHA which will help us steamroll into the Final Five without playing 6 games in ten days like last year or whatever that was!

    • Siouxbetcha

      You should focus your attention on your outstanding fortune telling. Evedently, you can predict how things are going to shake out with a couple of Sioux losses and there bieng a total of 20 pionts left to grab. Are you assuming that UMD and Denver are going undefeated from here on. Its awesome how you can speak on behalf of all WCHA teams on their feeling of playing at REA. I don’t think the opposing teams fear has much to do with the outcome. By the way, Dean Blais admitted he was very content with spliting the season series. If that isn’t a sign of fear and intimidation, I don’t know what is.

  • EagleinBoston

    never really care about WCHA, but let me burst your bubble, BC has beaten Denver (sweep in Denver) swept Maine — beat University of North Dakota twice this year. At least three Hockey East teams are better than every team in the WCHA. If you want to know what pressure is like, try playing in Boston. Jerry York is the best coach in college hockey. Hate BU. Despise those b-st-rds, but last five NCAAs have feature one or the other, and, oh, who is the reigning national champion? Hate New Hampshire and Maine too, but they are better than North Dakota

    • cossioux

      Listen, BC has a great coach and a very good team, but as an educated fan, you know that one game is just that and anything can happen. Is H.E better than the WCHA? only tourney results this year will settle that dispute. What has happened in the past is past. You guys are the champs until someone proves otherwise, but to say that your top 3 are better every team in WCHA? doubtful but cant be proven until March.

    • Siouxbetcha

      What are you doing on this post if you don’t care about the WCHA. Both the series you mentioned were early in the season. Lots of hockey between then and March. HE has done very well at tourney time as has the WCHA in years past (let’s not forget 2005 frozen four) we’ll see if that holds true for this year. As of right now, the PWR has 3 WCHA teams in front of your Eagles and the aforementioned HE teams. Good luck.

  • Suture1

    Lincoln Jim, keep up the posting, you are killing me…lol. How old are you, 12? You sound like a little child on here and have no insight of any kind. I actually think UNO is one of the top teams in the country, have thought this for a while. I know Dean Blais and it is only a matter of time before UNO will be in the final four. But, to hear you on here is nothing more than amusing. Try to be a little more educated and reasonable and you might be taken seriously. Of course, I can always come here to read your posts instead of reading the comic section in our local paper. LOL…you kill me Jimbo…lol.

  • LincolnJim

    Helloooooooo boys!!!! Enjoy the polls? I like the USA Today poll best! Have fun storming the castle :)

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