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Sioux earn gritty win

The UND men's hockey team didn't have its captain on the ice for the final 22 minutes and it didn't have its normal jump for the entire game. Still, the Sioux managed to gut out a 4-2 home victory over St. Cloud State in front of 11,792 in Ralph ...

Deflected puck
The puck is deflected off St. Cloud State goalie Mike Lee as UND's Chris VandeVelde and Jason Gregoire look for a rebound in the first period Friday. Herald photo by Eric Hylden.

The UND men's hockey team didn't have its captain on the ice for the final 22 minutes and it didn't have its normal jump for the entire game.

Still, the Sioux managed to gut out a 4-2 home victory over St. Cloud State in front of 11,792 in Ralph Engelstad Arena.

It wasn't pretty for much of Friday's game, but a pair of goals by David Toews and a strong effort from Brad Eidsness in goal helped the Sioux improve to 7-1-1 overall and 5-1-1 in Western Collegiate Hockey Association play.

"A character win is probably a good way to sum it up," UND coach Dave Hakstol said. "We got the two points, an important two points. Hopefully we can come back tomorrow night with a little more energy and get back to playing the way we want to play."

Hakstol said he's not sure if captain Chay Genoway will be available for the series finale.

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Genoway was checked from behind into the boards by St. Cloud State forward Aaron Marvin with two minutes, 33 seconds left in the second period. He remained down on the ice as the trainer rushed to his side. Eventually, Genoway skated off on his own power, but his return was immediately ruled out.

"All I know is that he wasn't able to go in the third period," Hakstol said. "I know absolutely nothing beyond that. I haven't had a chance to talk to anybody yet."

The hit was originally charged to defenseman Chris Hepp, but was changed to Marvin between periods.

"You never want to see a guy go down like that, especially our captain," UND defenseman Ben Blood said. "But I think we rallied. We came together a little bit there. We decided that we needed to pick up our game a little bit."

The Sioux held the Huskies off the scoreboard the rest of the way and got a power-play tally by Toews in the third to build a two-goal cushion. For Toews, it was his first-career two-goal game. Mario Lamoureux and Darcy Zajac also scored for the Sioux, who built a 3-0 lead and watched it slowly slip away.

"That happens sometimes when you build a two-goal lead - a two-goal lead is the worst lead in hockey," said Blood, who had a career-best two assists. "We found a way to win tonight and that's what is important. It wasn't exactly the prettiest win. I wouldn't say that we were all there. But good teams find a way to win and we found a way to win."

The Sioux are now unbeaten in 17 home games - a streak that started against this same St. Cloud State team last December. They are outscoring their opponents by more than two goals during that stretch and continue to find different ways to win.

UND's grittiest forward unit gave the team an early lead with a pair of effort-fueled goals in the first. Lamoureux made the play on UND's first goal and he was the recipient of great play by Blood on the second one.

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The scoring started at 6 minutes, 23 seconds when Blood's point shot hit traffic in front and sat in the high slot. Although he was pushed to the ground, Lamoureux swatted the puck into the slot, where Zajac picked it up and snuck it inside the left post.

About seven minutes later, Blood did his best Genoway impression, rushing the puck through the neutral zone and deep into St. Cloud State's end. Blood carried the puck below the goal line with his one arm, using the other to fight off St. Cloud State captain Garrett Raboin. Blood threw a shot off of the side of the net that bounced to Lamoureux in the slot.

UND opened up a three-goal lead at 7:50 of the second, when Toews snapped a wrist shot from the left circle past St. Cloud State goalie Mike Lee, but the Huskies stormed back with goals by Ryan Lasch and Tony Mosey to end the second.

Without Genoway, UND rolled five defensemen for the rest of the game and had some scary moments, but some good fortune and good goaltending allowed the Sioux to seal the victory.

"We had to grind it out all game," Hakstol said. "Give St. Cloud some credit as well. We knew they were a quick team, a team that was going to come at us with speed and put puck pressure on us. We need to come back and do a little bit better job handling that pressure and counter-acting that pressure."

Notes: St. Cloud State played without its leading scorer, Garrett Roe. He was suspended one game for violating team rules. . . Brett Hextall, listed as questionable coming into the series, played on the third line for the Sioux. . . WCHA supervisor of officials Greg Shepherd was in Ralph Engelstad Arena. It is the third game in a row he has seen the Sioux.

Schlossman has covered college hockey for the Grand Forks Herald since 2005. He has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the top beat writer for the Herald's circulation division four times and the North Dakota sportswriter of the year once. He resides in Grand Forks. Reach him at bschlossman@gfherald.com.
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