Brad Eidsness doesn’t recall ever giving up two goals the way he did to open the WCHA Final Five championship game. One minute hadn’t gone by in the first period before the North Dakota goaltender let in two St. Cloud State goals.
“I kind of took a look around and looked at our bench,” Eidsness said. “It’s kind of been the story of our year. We battled through adversity and we were able to settle ourselves down.
The Fighting Sioux rallied around Eidsness, who stopped all but one of the shots he faced the rest of the night, leading the Sioux to the crown with a 4-3 win.
“It was something special for us seniors,” said UND assistant captain Darcy Zajac. “We had our chances in the past but it just seemed right this year. It was a special moment.”
Garrett Raboin and David Eddy scored goals at the 40- and 50-second marks of the first to give a 2-0 lead.
“We came out quick and we were able to put a couple in the net,” Raboin said.
Ryan Lasch danced around Andrew MacWilliam behind the UND goal and tripped over the side of the net as he made a pass to Raboin in the slot who snapshot the puck over Eidsness’ glove for the first goal.
And 15 seconds later, it was a two-goal game. Drew LeBlanc carried the puck across the red line into the UND zone and left a pass across the slot to David Eddy. The Huskies caught Eidsness out of position and Eddy fired on the open net.
“Our guys were ready to go,” said SCSU coach Bob Motzko. “We had a little step. Two goals in the first minute, you’ll always take that. Our game plan was to get on our toes and play.”
UND got on the board 15 seconds after the Huskies’ Aaron Marvin went to the box for hooking. The puck slid into the slot in front of SCSU goalie Mike Lee and Chris Hepp fanned on a chance to clear. Corban Knight shot the loose puck past Lee.
The Sioux tied the game at 17:06 of the first when Jason Gregoire passed the puck down low to Evan Trupp behind the net. Trupp skated the puck around the goal and got the puck out front to Brad Malone who put it past Lee.
The Sioux got a 5-on-3 opportunity 4:21 into the second period when Oliver Lauridsen decked Danny Kristo in the face after the whistle and went to the box for contact to the head. The penalty came 45 seconds after SCSU’s Sam Zabkowicz was called for hooking.
Danny Kristo took advantage 1:01 into the two-man advantage when his shot from the point trickled through Lee’s pads. Chris VandeVelde scored 43 seconds later while still on the power play to give UND a 4-2 lead.
The goal prompted Motzko to replace Lee with Dan Dunn after Lee allowed four goals on 27 shots. Dunn stopped all 11 shots he faced in the final 34 minutes of the game.
“Our two goalies have battled all year and made each other better,” Motzko said. “Once we hunkered down after the timeout and the made the change, I felt we got stronger in the hockey game.”
The Huskies pulled within a goal with 3:14 left in the second period Travis Mosey circled behind the Sioux net and centered for Eddy, who snapped a shot past Eidsness.
But SCSU was unable to get anything past Eidsness for the rest of the game. Eidsness faced 15 shots in the third period and saved them all.
“I looked at our bench and I had a feeling I probably shouldn’t let in another goal or the boys wouldn’t be too happy with me if we had to go to overtime,” said Eidsness, who was named the Final Five all-tournament team’s goalie. “Playing three games in three nights, we really laid our heart on the line.”
The Huskies continued to fire away at the UND goal the whole third period, but a turnover in the Sioux zone resulted in a Matt Frattin empty-net goal with 41 seconds left in the third.
“That was the first time I was able to take a breath until the buzzer,” Hakstol said.
It was the third time the teams met in the Final Five title game. SCSU beat UND 6-5 in 2001 and the Sioux defeated the Huskies 5-3 in 2006. It is UND’s ninth WCHA playoff title in team history.