North Dakota sweeps UMD

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- Haircuts were a rallying point for Minnesota Duluth before the start of the 2009 playoff season. Defenseman Evan Oberg sheared his teammates and the Bulldogs won six straight postseason games on the way to the Division I quar...

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- Haircuts were a rallying point for Minnesota Duluth before the start of the 2009 playoff season. Defenseman Evan Oberg sheared his teammates and the Bulldogs won six straight postseason games on the way to the Division I quarterfinals.

UMD tried the same motivating tactic before opening a Western Collegiate Hockey Association series against North Dakota, with junior winger Cody Danberg using the clippers on selected Bulldogs. Despite a Friday loss, UMD was hoping for a bit of magic Saturday to renew its quest for clinching home ice in the league playoffs.

North Dakota, celebrating an NCAA title from 2000, had its own home-ice incentive and completed a sweep with a 5-1 victory before 11,800 fans at Ralph Engelstad Arena. The win put No. 13-ranked North Dakota (16-11-5 overall, 11-10-5 WCHA) into a tie for fifth place in the league, the final home playoff position, with four games to play.

The loss kept No. 9 UMD (18-13-1, 14-9-1) in a tailspin, going 2-6 the past eight games and 1-10-1 the past 12 on North Dakota ice. The Bulldogs dropped to fourth in the league, four points ahead of North Dakota and Colorado College.

"We didn't play our best this weekend and got behind both nights," said UMD center Jack Connolly. "Our effort was there, our execution was not. We need to play more disciplined; that's what killed us. A lot of it has to do with our confidence. We can't play like we're afraid to make mistakes."


The Fighting Sioux got two goals from Mario Lamoureux and another solid performance from goalie Brad Eidsness. North Dakota got off to a quick start for a second straight night in winning a third straight game.

Winger Brett Hextall connected in a 4-on-4 shift 4:16 into the game and Jason Gregoire followed with his 15th goal of the season from the bottom of the left circle for a 2-0 lead before the 10-minute mark.

At that point goalie Kenny Reiter, in his sixth straight start, was replaced by Brady Hjelle after two goals allowed on six shots. Reiter says he'd like to have the Gregoire goal back.

"I was having trouble with my angles in this rink and maybe I wasn't as patient as I should've been," Reiter said. "The Sioux played like a team that was more determined and they outmuscled us a lot of the time."

UMD cut the lead to 2-1 just after a 5-on-3 power play expired 2:42 into the second period, as Mike Connolly was credited with a goal from the crease (although the consensus was that North Dakota defenseman Derrick LaPoint knocked the puck in). Forty-six seconds later Lamoureux responded and it was 3-1 after two periods.

"The biggest thing the last two weeks, and not just on game days, there's a real focus to our team," Eidsness said. "We have an understanding to what it takes to win. We wanted to re-establish ourselves on home ice if we want to be here for the playoffs."

In the third period, Lamoureaux, with 2:33 to play, and Chris VandeVelde, into an empty net with 1:48 left, finished the scoring. UMD was outshot 28-23.

"We gave up two easy goals, we didn't challenge their goalie much, and we just didn't play well," said UMD coach Scott Sandelin. "North Dakota's best period was the third. They played a solid game and ours had holes."


UMD had gone the first 24 games without being swept in a series, but has now been swept twice in the last month.

"It was a complete four-line game, which allowed us to have as much energy as we did. We had good jump," said North Dakota coach Dave Hakstol.

Entering Saturday's games, Denver and St. Cloud State had already clinched home ice for the playoffs, which open March 12, while the final three spots are being sought by five teams -- UMD, Wisconsin, Colorado College, North Dakota and Minnesota.

UMD is home this weekend against Minnesota.

Minnesota Duluth.......0-1-0--1

North Dakota..............2-1-2--5

First period -- 1. North Dakota, Brett Hextall 12 (Matt Frattin), 4:16 (4x4); 2. North Dakota, Jason Gregoire 15 (Joe Gleason), 8:51. Penalties -- Jack Connolly, UMD (tripping), :10; Mario Lamoureux, North Dakota (hooking), 2:58; Travis Oleksuk, UMD (too many men on ice), 4:06;Brett Bruneteau, North Dakota (contact to the head), 13:38; Wade Bergman, UMD (holding), 17:19.

Second period -- 3. UMD, Mike Connolly 12 (Jack Connolly), 2:42 (pp); 4. North Dakota, Mario Lamoureax 4 (Darcy Zajac, Danny Kristo), 3:28. Penalties -- Corban Knight, North Dakota (tripping), :41; Andrew MacWilliam, North Dakota (tripping), 2:36; J. Connolly, UMD (tripping), 7:31; Brady Lamb, UMD (boarding), 9:10; lamb, UMD (tripping), 14:13.


Third period -- 6. North Dakota, Lamoureux 5, 17:27; 7. North Dakota, Chris VandeVelde 12 (Gregoire, Ben Blood), 18:12 (en). Penalties -- None.

Shots on goal -- UMD 8-7-8-23, North Dakota 11-11-6-28. Goalies -- Kenny Reiter (10-8), UMD (8 shots-6 saves); Brady Hjelle, UMD (19 shots-17 saves); Brad Eidsness (15-8-4), North Dakota (23 shots-22 saves). Power plays -- UMD 1-of-4; North Dakota 0-of-6. Referees -- C.J. Beaurline, Peter Friesema. Assistants -- Nathan Freeman, Matt Ulwelling. A -- 11,800.

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