Penalties killed UND in losses at Maine

Few members of the college hockey world’s west side saw this one coming.

Maine’s quick start, North Dakota goaltender Brad Eidsness’ quicker exit, and by Monday morning, UND’s fall from the No. 2 spot in the polls make up a hot topic coming out of Week 3. UND’s undisciplined play was a major factor in making all of the above happen.

The Fighting Sioux, which fell six spots to No. 8 in the Poll, went to the penalty box 24 times for 63 penalty minutes on the weekend, giving the Black Bears 19 total power plays. The result was five total PP goals in Maine’s 7-3 and 4-2 wins.

Just as costly as UND’s 74-percent penalty kill was the timing of the Black Bears’ power play goals.

On Friday, Maine scored 43 seconds into the game and 30 seconds later and Jason Gregoire took a hitting-from-behind penalty. The Black Bears capitalized when Brian Flynn scored with 13 seconds on the PP. Flynn scored again, 3:58 after Andrew MacWlliam received a 5-minute major and a game misconduct for contact to the head.

Maine scored a few minutes later after Derek Rodwell went off for elbowing. The Fighting Sioux gave the Black Bears four power play opportunites in the first period, Maine scored on three of them and with a 5-1 lead after one period, the game was over with 40 minutes to play (Highlights from siouxsportsfan. Notice the cozy confines of an Eastern-style arena).

UND had a one-goal lead halfway through the second period but Brad Malone took a hooking penalty and Maine scored eight seconds later. The lone Sioux lead of the series lasted 2:39.

The Sioux made any chance of a comeback, down two in the third period, difficult when they took three penalties in two minutes and gave up a 5-on-3 goal that iced the game.

Some of the penalties the Sioux took like diving, too many men, elbowing, contact to the head, etc., were plain undisciplined.

Gregoire told Brad Elliott Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald that UND spent “way too many minutes killing penalties.” He added, “That’s unacceptable. You can’t win games if you take that many penalties.”

The Sioux are currently ranked seventh in Division I with 20 penalty minutes per game and are a perennial lock for the national top 20 in penalty minutes and that’s mostly the product of UND’s highly physical, smashmouth approach.

Though it can’t erase the five goals the Sioux PK allowed, UND did net a shorthanded goal in each game. That’ll happen when you spend more than half the weekend with a man in the box.

Diaper Dandies, so far

Wisconsin’s Mark Zengerle, Minnesota-Duluth’s J.T. Brown and Nebraska-Omaha’s Matt White all were absent from the WCHA’s Preseason Coaches Poll Rookie of the Year voting but all three are in the top four in Division I for scoring by freshman. Zengerle leads the country in rookie scoring with two goals and eight assists, Brown (who did receive a vote for rookie of the year in the media poll) has three goals and six assists and White is tied for fourth with five goals and three assists.

Just because Colorado College’s Jaden Schwartz isn’t at the top of the list, the WCHA Preseason Rookie of the Year still averages a point per game and was a very entertaining player to watch last weekend in Mankato.