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North Dakota had no shortage of opportunities to defeat Minnesota-Duluth. But when the final horn sounded, the Fighting Sioux had to settle for a 3-3 tie with the visiting Bulldogs.
The Sioux outshot the Bulldogs 38-20. They had seven power plays — including a five-minute major — to four for UMD. They began the overtime period on the power play and ended it on the power play.
Despite defensive lapses and untimely giveaways by the Bulldogs, when it mattered most, UMD’s freshman goalie Isaac Reichmuth made big saves on some of UND’s top snipers to preserve the tie.
“I won’t say that it feels like a win because we had to kick and claw and scratch to do whatever we could to keep them off the board,” said UMD coach Scott Sandelin. “I just thank God that our goalie made the saves that he did.”
Before UMD freshman center Tim Stapleton scored on the power play at 2:58 of the third period to tie the game, the Bulldogs’ power play had been 0-23 for 17 straight periods and rated 52nd nationally.
The Sioux came into the game as the third-highest scoring team in the nation, with the fourth-best power play in the country. Although UND outshot UMD 15-7 in the third period and 3-0 in overtime, the Sioux couldn’t solve Reichmuth for two periods and overtime.
UND coach Dean Blais said his team’s frustration level is at an all-time high.
“We’ve gone into streaks where we’ve had some things not happen right, but usually it was because of lack of effort. We deserved what we got,” he said. “Now we’re not deserving what we’re getting for our hard work and effort.”
The Sioux jumped out to a 2-0 first-period lead. Senior wing Jason Notermann scored on the power play at 6:12, tipping in Rory McMahon’s centering pass. At 9:04, junior center David Lundbohm undressed Bulldog defenseman Jay Harwick, walked in on Reichmuth and fired a wrist shot that caught the top far corner.
The Bulldogs responded at 12:42 with their first goal of the game. Tyler Brosz’s centering pass from the corner traveled all the way through the slot to sophomore defenseman Neil Petruic. His low slapper from above the left circle beat Sioux goalie Jake Brandt, making it 2-1.
Sophomore forward James Massen restored UND’s two-goal lead at 14:57. When a Bulldog defenseman fell and turned the puck over, forward Mike Prpich and Massen came in 2-on-0. Prpich got Reichmuth to commit before dishing a pass to Massen, who buried his shot.
UND held its two-goal lead until the 17:39 mark of the second period. Bulldog sophomore center T.J. Caig broke free on the right side and fired a slapshot that Brandt stopped. However, he failed to control the rebound and junior wing Jesse Unklesbay was camped on the doorstep to put the puck in the net.
In the third period, the Bulldogs needed just four seconds to cash in on the power play. UMD’s Luke Stauffacher won a key faceoff deep in North Dakota’s zone. The puck took a crazy bounce and landed right in front of the crease, where Stapleton pounded it home at 2:58.
Although the Sioux controlled play in the third period and overtime, they couldn’t get the puck past Reichmuth, who made several outstanding saves.
“Our goaltender made the saves when he had to, and that was probably the difference,” Sandelin said. “We hung in there and showed a lot of character and resolve and got a big point.”
After UND rocketed to its best start ever, the Sioux are 1-6-2 in their last nine WCHA games. The solution to ending the skid seems simple, but is proving difficult.
“We just have to start scoring. That’s all there is to it,” said McMahon. “We just have to start putting the puck in the net.”
The tie keeps the Sioux in fourth place in the WCHA, one point ahead of UMD. UND is 22-8-5 overall, 12-8-5 WCHA, while the Bulldogs are 16-12-5, 12-9-4. The teams will meet at 1:05 p.m. on Sunday at Ralph Engelstad Arena for the second game of the series.