HOUGHTON, Mich. — It took the top-ranked North Dakota Fighting Sioux just about three and a half minutes to score their first goal, but nearly 34 minutes to seize control of Friday night’s matchup with the host Michigan Tech Huskies, as the Huskies held the Sioux to just one goal until forward Matt Frattin broke the game open.
The Sioux scored three goals in a stretch of 3:42 to pull away and skate off with a 6-1 victory at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena.
“The Malone-Trupp-Frattin line was really a bunch of leaders for us all the way through from the drop of the puck,” said North Dakota head coach Dave Hakstol. “I thought we had some other guys that really had to work their way into this game.”
Frattin’s game-winning tally came at the 13:58 mark of the middle frame as he undressed Huskies defenseman Daniel Sova, a freshman. After beating Sova, Frattin cut to the net and beat Huskies goaltender Kevin Genoe with a well-placed shot. Assistant captain Jake Marto and defenseman Ben Blood both assisted on the goal.
“I think that was the turning point,” said Frattin. “As soon as we got one, we just kept riding off that one and it was good to see a couple of bounces go in for us.”
The Sioux (25-8-3 overall, 20-6-1 in the WCHA) challenged the undermanned Huskies, who were playing without leading scorer Milos Gordic and assistant captain Bennett Royer, from the opening faceoff and were nearly rewarded just over three minutes in when forward Evan Trupp took a pass in the right corner from forward Brad Malone and attempted to stuff the puck in the net. Trupp would strike on his next chance.
Malone found Frattin in the high slot for the initial shot. Genoe made the save, redirecting the puck past the post to his left, but Trupp was waiting on the doorstep. Trupp batted the puck out the air past Genoe at 3:26.
The Huskies (4-27-4, 2-23-2) tied things up on their first real offensive rush of the game 4:13 later when sophomore center Evan Witt carried the puck in to the Sioux zone.
Witt passed the puck to freshman winger Dennis Rix. Rix found freshman center Daniel Holmberg on the back door to Sioux netminder Aaron Dell’s left, and Holmberg buried the puck for his fifth goal of the season.
Sophomore winger Aaron Pietila nearly put the Huskies up 2-1 a minute and a half into the second period when he threw the puck at Dell’s feet. The puck caromed off of Dell and hit the post behind him, just staying out of the net.
One minute and 40 seconds after Frattin put the Sioux ahead, Blood extended the lead to two with a one-timer during a four-on-four. Frattin picked up the primary assist and forward Jason Gregoire notched the second assist.
“Matt Frattin is a Hobey Baker finalist for a reason,” said Huskies head coach Jamie Russell. “You give him a chance, he’s got 27 goals coming into the weekend, and he buried it. I think that was the turning point of the hockey game.”
During a scrum in front of Genoe, forward Brent Davidson poked home the Sioux’s fourth goal of the game, capping a three-goal second period at 17:16. Forward Derek Rodwell and forward Mario Lamoureux both assisted on the goal.
The Sioux struck again just 2:47 into the final period when Gregoire batted a rebound out of the air and past Genoe. Forward Brock Nelson and Marto both assisted on the power-play goal.
Malone finished off the scoring for the Sioux at 18:08 when Frattin found him behind the Huskies’ defense. Malone cut in on Genoe and beat him with a deke to the backhand.
Dell made 18 saves in winning his 24th game of the season. Genoe stopped 39 for the Huskies.
The Sioux finished one-for-four on the power play while holding the Huskies to zero-for-three.
With the win, the Sioux clinched the WCHA regular season title—and the coveted MacNaughton Cup—outright.
Video: North Dakota’s Matt Frattin:
Video: North Dakota coach Dave Hakstol:
Video: Michigan Tech coach Jamie Russell: