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Saved-up start -- UND's Walski posts shutout in his debut in goal

Exactly seven years earlier, thousands of fans left Ralph Engelstad Arena talking about Aaron Walski. Sunday afternoon was no different. On the anniversary of his memorable 73-save performance in the North Dakota state championship game, Walski e...

Exactly seven years earlier, thousands of fans left Ralph Engelstad Arena talking about Aaron Walski.

Sunday afternoon was no different.

On the anniversary of his memorable 73-save performance in the North Dakota state championship game, Walski earned his first collegiate start. Once again, he was the story.

The junior from Fargo North stopped all 13 shots to lead North Dakota to a 1-0 win over Bemidji State in a nonconference game in Ralph Engelstad Arena.

The win extended UND's home winning streak to a building-record eight games and the team's unbeaten streak to 13.

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One streak that is no longer alive: Jean-Philippe Lamoureux's school-record 55 consecutive starts between the pipes.

Lamoureux, who had played every minute in goal this season, watched from the corner of the Sioux bench for the first time since December 2006. After the game ended, he tracked down the game puck and gave it to his backup.

"I was nervous, but I was excited," said Walski, who last started a game in 2005 as a member of the Bismarck Bobcats in the North American Hockey League. "I've waited three years for this. It's been my dream to play here. It feels great to get the start and the guys obviously played unreal in front of me."

Walski didn't have to make many saves, as the Sioux held the Beavers to just 13 shots on goal - the best defensive effort by UND since November 2003. But the Sioux needed every Walski save.

UND didn't get on the board until T.J. Oshie set up Andrew Kozek for the game's only goal with 4 minutes, 55 seconds remaining in the third.

"(Walski) didn't have a lot of work and for a guy who hasn't played a lot, that's really tough," UND coach Dave Hakstol said. "He was sharp when he needed to be. He made three or four big saves and did the job for his teammates."

Oshie said: "Wally played great. We couldn't ask much more out of him tonight. We battled as hard as we could in front of him and he returned the favor. He definitely deserved to be the player of the game."

Oshie also was a candidate for his effort throughout, most notably on the winning goal.

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The junior corralled the puck behind the net and fought off a check from Bemidji State defenseman David Deterding. As another Beaver player went to hit Oshie, he bounced a pass off the back of the net to himself, sidestepping the opponent in the process. Then, as Deterding hauled Oshie to the ice, the Sioux forward slipped a pass to the slot.

Kozek was there to put it past the glove of goaltender Orlando Alamano (31 saves) for his team-leading 14th goal of the season.

The goal lifted UND to 21-8-2 and dropped Bemidji State below .500 at 14-15-3.

"We tried. We did everything we had to do," Bemidji State coach Tom Serratore said. "But then their best player goes and makes a great play. He's just a heck of a hockey player. He had people draped all over him. What do you do? It was just a heck of a play.

"I thought it was a good hockey game. I wish we would have had it. But it's a nice story with the Walski kid. He saved their bacon a few times."

Walski became the first Sioux goaltender to earn a shutout in his debut start since Marc Ranfranz beat Canisius 6-0 in 2002. Afterward, every player on the Sioux team personally congratulated Walski.

"You can't count the number of pucks he's taken off the collarbone or inside of a knee cap (in practice)," Hakstol said. "He's a guy who just grits his teeth and gets back in there. He's physically tough and mentally tough. And obviously by his performance tonight, he's really driven himself to be game-ready. He was game-ready tonight."

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