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Coaches of North Dakota opponents are beginning to realize that successfully containing Sioux freshman center Zach Parise is no formula for victory.
After Parise picked up a point on one assist in UND’s 4-3 win over St. Cloud State at Engelstad Arena, Huskies coach Craig Dahl said, “I don’t think the Parise line had all that many great chances, and that’s what we wanted to do.”
But with goals from forwards on three different lines and a defenseman, the Sioux didn’t need Parise’s line to carry the scoring load. The game winner came from sophomore forward James Massen at 3:43 of the third period, with assists from center David Lundbohm and defenseman Andy Schneider.
“That’s the key,” Dahl said. “You can’t just have one line scoring.”
“That’s one of our team’s biggest strengths,” Massen said. “We have four lines that can go any night and score goals.”
The Huskies took a 1-0 lead at 1:25 of the first period when center Peter Szabo tipped a centering pass from Matt Hendricks past Sioux goalie Josh Siembida.
After that, UND proceeded to do exactly what coach Dean Blais wanted to avoid. The Sioux got into penalty trouble against SCSU’s power play, which had been clicking at a sizzling 30.8 percent success rate — third best in the nation.
“We talked about not taking penalties and we should have learned our lesson from last weekend,” he said, referring to the seven power-play goals scored on the Sioux by Mankato. “We have to learn not to take the second penalty that puts us down 5-on-3, especially early in the game. It just breaks your back and breaks your momentum.”
But with a 5-on-3 for nearly a minute and a half, the Huskies couldn’t capitalize.
“That was big,” Dahl said. “Any time you kill off a 5-on-3 at any point in a game, it’s huge. It gives your team an emotional lift.”
UND tied the game by scoring on one of its four power-play opportunities at 11:53 of the first period. Schneider’s slapshot from the just inside the blue line got past SCSU goalie Jake Moreland for a 1-1 tie that held through the first period.
Early in the second period, the Sioux gave the Huskies their second 5-on-3 power play of the game. Siembida stopped center Jon Cullen’s first shot, but couldn’t collect the rebound and Cullen put it in at 1:40 to give the Huskies a 2-1 lead.
Netting his third goal in three games, Sioux freshman forward Mike Prpich tied it 2-2 at 16:45 of the second. With 31 seconds left in the period, Parise fought off a check along the boards and got the puck to forward Brandon Bochenski, who found himself alone in front of Moreland. He roofed a wrist shot that gave UND a 3-2 lead.
Just two minutes into the third period, the Huskies scored just as a power play ended when sophomore wing Mike Doyle shot defenseman Jeff Finger’s centering attempt past Siembida.
UND took the lead for good at the 3:43 mark. With nobody between him and Moreland, Massen ripped a shot from near the top of the right faceoff circle that cleanly beat the Husky goalie on the short side. Massen has scored all eight of his goals in UND’s last 10 games.
A key for the Sioux was limiting the Huskies to one power-play goal on six attempts, including two two-man advantages.
“We got a bit of puck luck,” Blais said. “The puck was right there and the guy was right on the doorstep. It bounced over the stick one time and missed the net another time. We were lucky.”
Hendricks agreed with Blais’ assessment.
“When you have two good teams playing, what it comes down to is a defensive mishap. Our team defense hasn’t been playing up to par lately and just one bounce is what it takes to win a game like this. That’s actually what it comes down to,” he said.
Halfway through its 14-game home stand, UND is 6-0-1. The Sioux are 8-0-1 at home on the year, already surpassing their win total at Engelstad Arena last season.
UND, ranked number one this week in the USCHO.com poll, is 13-1-1 overall and 7-1-1 in the WCHA. SCSU is 6-6-1 overall and 4-4-1 in the WCHA.
North Dakota will play SCSU in the second game of the series at 7:05 p.m. Saturday at Engelstad Arena.