Sioux erase bad memories with win

Welcome back, Ed Belfour. Welcome back, UND men's hockey team. A night that started with 11,616 saluting one of the all-time greats to wear a Fighting Sioux jersey ended with the fans on their feet roaring as the Sioux closed out a 4-3 victory ov...

Genoway after the puck
UND Chay Genoway (5) reaches around Denver's Jason Zucker (17) to steal the puck in the first period Friday night, Herald photo by John Stennes.

Welcome back, Ed Belfour.

Welcome back, UND men's hockey team.

A night that started with 11,616 saluting one of the all-time greats to wear a Fighting Sioux jersey ended with the fans on their feet roaring as the Sioux closed out a 4-3 victory over rival Denver in Ralph Engelstad Arena - the team's first home game after a month on the road.

Corban Knight scored twice, Jason Gregoire was the best player on the ice in getting two assists and Dillon Simpson scored his first collegiate goal to help UND erase the bad memories of last weekend's pair of losses at Maine.

The Sioux, who also received a goal from sophomore Mike Cichy, are now 3-0 in Western Collegiate Hockey Association play and 4-2-1 overall.


"It was great. It's great to be home," UND coach Dave Hakstol said. "We start the night with the tribute to Eddie and the roof was coming off the place. And the last minute, again, you can't put a price tag on that and what that means to our guys. It was fun to play at home and I'm glad we got a win for everybody in the stands."

The game was nothing like some of the wild and bizarre meetings these teams have had in the past. There were only four penalties called all night and only one against the Sioux, which was a vast change from the 19 power plays they allowed the Black Bears last weekend.

"To put it simple, I think we did everything better," Knight said. "We were a completely different team this weekend. We were very team-oriented. I think we only took one penalty. It was a complete difference from last week. We have to keep it up and bring that tomorrow, too."

UND will try to reverse another trend as the teams close out their two-game series at 7:07 tonight. A year ago, Denver swept the Sioux twice in the regular season.

"If we can roll all four lines and stay out of the box, that's huge for us," Gregoire said. "A lot of shifts, we were cycling down low and got changes and kept them tired. That's a key for success."

Aaron Dell (17 saves) played his fifth game in net - matching his total from all of last season. He didn't see many shots and only one in all of the second period, but was able to come away with his first victory in Ralph Engelstad Arena.

The crowd was revved up before the game with Belfour - a six-time NHL all-star, Stanley Cup champion and Olympic gold medalist - telling them he always dreamed of being a Sioux.

"Everything started for me here," he said with his former coach, Gino Gasparini, at his side. "All of the tradition, the hard work and lessons came from the coaches and the fans that support this program 110 percent, which means so much to the guys.


"We're very, very lucky. We all really appreciate it."

Denver was able to quiet the crowd briefly when freshman Jason Zucker (two goals) was left alone in the slot and one-timed a puck past Dell at 6 minutes, 19 seconds.

UND evened the score a little more than five minutes later. Right after Gregoire rang a shot off the post, the puck bounced out to Simpson, who was all alone in the slot. Denver goalie Sam Brittain (26 saves) stopped Simpson's first attempt, but the rookie defenseman picked up the loose puck and scored.

The Pioneers took advantage of UND's only lapse of the second period at the 1:53 mark. Defenseman Matt Donovan took the puck coast-to-coast and snuck a shot between Dell's pads to give Denver a 2-1 lead.

The Sioux responded with a pair of goals to take the lead for good.

Cichy blasted a shot from the top of the right circle into the corner of the net while Brittain was occupied with Derek Rodwell and Knight finished off a tic-tac-toe passing play from Gregoire and Brett Hextall.

"That was so cool, the opening ceremonies to have a guy like that on the ice," Knight said of Belfour. "You grow up idolizing Eddie the Eagle, even if he is a goaltender. It was cool having him in the building and I don't know if I've heard The Ralph that loud since the Gophers last year."

Notes: The Sioux warmed up wearing custom No. 29 Belfour jerseys as a tribute to the goalie. Belfour signed them and they went on sale at the Sioux Shop after warmups with proceeds going to the Perry Nakonechny Fund and the Fighting Sioux Men's Hockey Scholarship Endowment. . . Derek Forbort was scratched because he was ill.

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
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