ST. CLOUD, Minn. — Brad Eidsness played like he deserved his spot back as North Dakota’s No.1 goaltender and Ryan Faragher looked as if he should be St. Cloud State’s starting goalie when Mike Lee returns from injury in a few weeks.
But it was Faragher’s team that ended up on the winning end of a 3-1 final Friday night at the National Hockey Center.
“I like [UND's] fast pace and quick plays, they’ve improved since the last time we played and I think I’ve improved, too,” said Faragher, a freshman who stopped 41 shots for SCSU.
His counterpart, Eidsness, made 27 saves.
“It was just a matter of us being the better team tonight,” added Faragher.
It was SCSU’s second straight win after beating Colorado College last Saturday and puts them in a tie with Michigan Tech for the last home ice spot for the WCHA playoffs at 17 points apiece. The Huskies were able to pass UND (16 points) in the standings.
“We’ve been playing good hockey for a month and the one thing we haven’t been able to do is string anything together,” said Huskies coach Bob Motzko. “Our young young goalie was seeing the puck tonight and did a very good job.”
For UND, it was the second straight loss after the 6-2 loss to Minnesota last Saturday. UND (12-9-2 overall, 8-8-0 WCHA) and SCSU (9-11-4, 6-7-3) will face off again at 7:07 p.m. at the National Hockey Center.
“We need to score more goals and generate more offense,” said UND coach Dave Hakstol. “One goal is not going to win you too many games on the road.”
UND put 18 shots on Faragher in the third period and he stopped every one of them, including many second-chance opportunities resulting from heavy traffic at the goal mouth. The pressure seemed to shift in UND’s favor around the 10-minute mark of the third period.
“They threw the puck from everywhere – behind the net and bad angles – but our guys did a good job clearing them, too,” said Faragher, who stopped 44 shots in his first career shutout, a 4-0 win Oct. 28 at UND. “I don’t know why I’ve had two good games against them. I think my style might be good with their style of game.”
Fargagher allowed the first goal of the game when Michael Parks received a nice outlet pass from Mark MacMillan and but on the breaks at the left circle. Parks hit Carter Rowney, who got around Taylor Johnson in the slot and one-timed the puck past Faragher the 16:58 mark.
UND took a lead into the first intermission for the fifth time all season and was undefeated in the previous four games when leading after one period.
But Cory Thorson tipped a shot by Andrew Prochno from the point 3:55 into the second period to tie the game and the Huskies took the lead 5:29 later on a Jarrod Rabey shot from the right point that found its way through a traffic jam in front of Eidsness.
It was all SCSU needed.
“We had to match their intensity,” Motzko said. “And it took us 20 minutes to match it.”
Despite the heavy pressure, Faragher refused UND to score the tying goal and Hakstol called Eidsness off the ice with 1:19 left in the game. Moments later, Brock Nelson missed high and wide right on a tip shot. The puck ended up on the stick of Prochno, who got it ahead to Ben Hanowski, who sent an outlet to Jared Festler, who sent a shot in from the blue line and into the goal to clinch the win.
UND called a timeout with 40 seconds left and took the ensuing faceoff with six skaters on the ice and Eidsness on the bench. While Faragher kept UND from tying the game for the last 30:36 of the game, Eidsness did a good job making sure SCSU couldn’t expand on its lead.
“[Eidsness] has earned [his playing time] over his past year’s work,” Hakstol said. “He’s done a great job for us for the last month and he was ready to go tonight.”
Eidsness played the third period in the loss to Minnesota last Saturday, started UND’s win against Alaska-Anchorage Dec. 2 and relieved Aaron Dell on Nov. 25 when he made 13 saves without allowing goal in the third period of a 7-6 win.
Other than that, Eidsness’ playing time has been few and far between after a bad start to the 2010-11 season.
“Whenever I get a chance to play, I give the team a chance to win,” said Eidsness, who was UND’s No. 1 goalie as a freshman and sophomore. “I think I’ve played well this year, but playing time is the coach’s decision and he’s going to do whatever he sees fit to give us what’s best for our team.”