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College Hockey:
Knowlton scores two to lead Denver past North Dakota

— After Friday’s loss to North Dakota, Denver coach George Gwozdecky stated his team had gotten outworked in every area. The No. 9 Pioneers were determined to come out better, and put in a much more solid effort in defeating No. 14 North Dakota, 5-3, before 6,166 fans at Magness Arena.

“It was an embarrassing effort last night, an embarrassing performance, and I don’t think the score indicated at all how poorly we played,” said Gwozdecky. “Certainly that locker room, from last night to the start of the game tonight, was quiet, it was sour. I don’t want to say angry, but maybe as close to anger as you can about how we played. Certainly I thought we responded in a good way.”

Even with the stronger effort in the first period, the Pioneers put themselves in a potentially dangerous position at 12:55 when Matt Tabrum got a five-minute major and game misconduct for checking-from-behind. On the ensuing penalty kill, Denver used aggressive forechecking to keep North Dakota from setting up for any length of time in the offensive zone, killing off the entire penalty.

“We made an adjustment on our power play, we made an adjustment on our penalty kill, because they had an easier time retrieving pucks in our zone when they were on their breakout coming through the neutral zone,” said Gwozdecky. “We had to do a better job adapting, and part of it I think is we played with a much better edge.”

Denver’s aggressive play to start the second period, including a series of big hits, finally paid dividends when the Sioux took consecutive minors. Though Denver’s first goal wasn’t technically on a power play, it did come as the second minor ended when Drew Shore dished the puck to Nick Shore, who was stationed deep down the left side, almost along the goal line. Nick Shore lifted a quick wrist shot that beat Brad Eidsness short side at 9:23.

That was only the start of a wild series of goals in the period. At 12:24, North Dakota’s Mark MacMillan forced a turnover along the left side boards and dished the puck to Carter Rowney at the far post, who tapped it in on a play that was eerily similar to North Dakota’s first goal on Friday night.

Buoyed by the goal, North Dakota pressed, forcing Juho Olkinuora to make several tough saves, and drawing a penalty on Scott Mayfield for cross-checking in front of his own net. However, Chris Knowlton intercepted an errant pass on the power play by Nick Mattson at the left point and raced up ice, splitting the Sioux defense and firing a rocket top corner glove side at 13:34 for an unassisted short-handed goal.

“I just got my stick on their pass across, and it was apparent they weren’t going to catch me, and I was fortunate to get a good shot off,” said Knowlton. “It was a huge win. We came out and set the tone early and got the two points, and that’s what we needed. We needed to work harder. Last night, we just didn’t bring the effort. We had the same game plan, we just executed it better.”

After Mayfield’s penalty, Denver got its own power-play, and made the Sioux pay with some pretty tic-tac-toe passing in the offensive zone that ended when Drew Shore got the puck in the left slot and backhanded a pass across to Jason Zucker on the right side, who one-timed it into the open net at 15:30.

Right off the draw, while the announcer was on the PA, Dillon Simpson carried the puck across the Denver blue line and passed it to Brock Nelson in the left circle, who quickly fired a wrist shot that beat Olkinuora top corner glove side at 15:37.

Denver regrouped however, and on another power play, Scott Mayfield got the puck in the right circle on a pass from Nick Shore and fired it top corner stick side. While he was celebrating, Joey LaLeggia approached him at the boards, only to run into Ben Blood, who pushed LaLeggia. LaLeggia responded, getting his arms up. Blood got a two minute minor for roughing, while LaLeggia was assessed a five minute major for head butting and a game misconduct.

“The referee informed me that he saw Joe LaLeggia, he had caught Ben Blood, the North Dakota player, with the first initial, I think it’s an elbowing penalty he gave him, and then he said he saw Joe LaLeggia jump in the air and head butt Ben Blood in the face,” said Gwozdecky. “Obviously when you watch the replay, it’s pretty apparent that none of that occurred.”

“It was a little bit of a scuffle, a couple punches thrown by myself,” said LaLeggia. “It’s the ref’s call, and I can’t say I agree with it, but that’s hockey, and we got the win, and that’s all that matters.”

With three minutes of power play time to start the third period, North Dakota’s potent power play was again shut down by an aggressive Denver kill. Denver played tight defense the rest of the third period, keeping North Dakota from generating too many chances.

“Theirs (special teams) was the difference in the game,” said North Dakota coach Dave Hakstol. “We each scored a short-handed goal. There’s was a little more prominent than ours because of the timing. I think they ended up with three power-play goals, and we couldn’t cash in.”

Both teams continued to fight to get under the other’s skin. North Dakota’s Michael Parks was assessed a five-minute major and game misconduct for contact to the head, the fourth game misconduct of the series. Denver made the most of its power play, as Knowlton fired a shot from the right circle that beat Eidsness low at 17:35.

North Dakota did get one back when Mayfield stumbled near the red line, allowing Danny Kristo and Nelson to break in two-on-one. Kristo fed a perfect pass to Nelson in the slot, and Nelson one-timed it past a helpless Olkinuora at 18:43. North Dakota called time out and then pulled its goalie, but was unable to get any closer.

“Everything’s in our hands,” said Hakstol. “We gained some points on the team that’s closest to us. We hold our fate in our hands. We go home next weekend. We came in and got a split on the road. We battled really hard.”

“Certainly when you get two teams like this together, there’s that extra spark,” said Gwozdecky. “There’s that extra emotion involved in playing in games with these guys, I think partially because we have played in so many big big games with them. There’s certainly some bad blood, but I think that’s what makes good rivalries, and this is certainly one of them.”



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  • Guest

    Oddly enough, UND got another 5 and a game for a …oh wait for it…a hit to the head on Ryder with 3 minutes left in the game.

    • Siouxbetcha

      Yes.  An idiodic act that twarted any hopes of a comeback.  Was an easy call.  I think Parks will be a healthy scratch next game if the Sioux can afford it.

      • MPLS Sioux

        You kidding me? We don’t have enough skaters to fill a full lineup…there won’t be a healthy scratch the rest of the year for the Sioux

        • Fan Man

           No doubt, I think the Sioux might start picking up Red River players now that “there” season is over!  J/K and LOL

    • B.D.

      Whatever happened to “Tough Nose Hockey?”
      Body checks that were acceptable when I was young seemingly will now get you prosecuted.
      When did the WCHA go east?

      • Guest

        Trust me…the hit Ryder took to the head was not a body check…Ryder gives out and takes the definition of body checks.  That was a dirty hit that the Refs didn’t hesitate with.  The only debate was whether or not to eject him.  Again, Ryder is the definition of “Tough Nose Hockey”.  

        • B.D.

          Nonsense, for the past three seasons I have watched what heretofore would be considered clean hits now putting players in the box.
          The officiating seems to have gone to the Ivy League standard….

  • Chicago Mike

    Composure wins championships.

    • MPLS Sioux

      Actually wins win championships…4 of them in the NCAA tournament

      -Minneapolis Eric

      • WCHA HOCKEY

        We don’t care that your from Minneapolis, there are Gopher fans in Grand Forks too.

        • B.D.

          Homeboy for one…. But he actually sems to hate the Sioux rather than actually like anyone else….I sense it is a case of pure jealousy.

          • WCHA HOCKEY

            Jealousy is the last thing anyone needs to get from UND

        • Jason

          I actually hear that fans that are in different cities than their team are super hardcore.

          • WCHA HOCKEY

            Probabaly cause theres so much hate around them, like Packer fans in Minnesota are lile life or death for the Packers.

  • Sueh8ter

    the sue are so crappy that the other shore brother, pauly, could have scored!!!!!!!!!!

    • nogofer

      Where have you been, sister?  Your dopey comments have been missed.  You, again, add nothing to the conversation.  When will the moderator pull your right to post?  I ask you, seriously, if the Sioux are so crappy why did they split with a team that swept the rodents two weeks back?

      • Jason

        If you actually wanted to try and compare two teams you would look at their head-to-head record for the year. Which happens to go to the Gophers 3-1.

        • Fan Man

          And thats OK!  Final Five and the Regional will tell who is the better team….

  • Sueh8ter

    it is sad to see that dean blaise has not out grown his nodak back ground.  friday night his mavericks had no answer for bjugstad so what does he do????  he plays a big goon, who did not play fri., and has him take a run at bjugstad and puts him out of the game.  same stuff hackstool is still doing at nodak.  STAY CLASSY!!!!!!!!

    • nogofer

      Dean Blaise played his hockey at?  mn???  You tell us to stay classy, then miss-spell the ND Coach’s name in a limp effort at humor.  Hello Pot?  This is Kettle…

    • SIOUXFAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

       you sir are a moron. jealousy of the sioux will get you no where.

  • fcc56

    “There’s (special teams) was the difference in the game.”
    “There’s
    was a little more prominent than ours because of the timing.”

    Are you kidding me? “There’s”??

    • SIOUXFAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

       lol that is what i was thinking……….

  • SIOUXFAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Why read this article? The grammar and composition is horrible. “There’s” is different than “theirs”. Try learning to differentiate the two please.

  • Suture

    All I know is the Goph’s better do something this year.  This is the weakest team UND has had in years and they are still in the thick of it.  Want to go by records with MN and UND?  Hmm, look at the past 6-7 years and I think you will see who has dominated whom…:)  Really, the Goph’s are not bad this year but the WCHA on the whole is way down.  I actually hope someone from the WCHA makes it big in the NT (well, I can never root for the Goph’s…sorry) because the usual powerhouse’s are not up to par. I am actually more impressed with what this Sioux team has done this year with their lack of talent…relatively that is….than some of the of the other more highly talented teams that won more games.  I am one who had to eat crow because I did not think the Sioux would win more than 10-12 games.  I cannot believe how these kids are fighting to give themselves a chance.  I have one question.  Where does DU come off getting these all-star defensemen every year?  Every single year I see 1-2 outstanding defensemen come out of DU.  ND needs to start raiding their recruiting bases!!