Sioux open with 5-2 win over Merrimack

Before the game, UND raised a Western Collegiate Hockey Association championship banner that was won largely thanks to contributions by eight seniors on last season's team.

Before the game, UND raised a Western Collegiate Hockey Association championship banner that was won largely thanks to contributions by eight seniors on last season's team.

Then, the Sioux took the ice and showed there's still some pretty good talent left.

Eleven players had points, all four lines got on the scoresheet and four rookies grabbed their first collegiate points during UND's 5-2 win over Merrimack in front of 11,135 in Ralph Engelstad Arena on Friday night.

David Toews was the No. 1 star for scoring a goal, setting another one up and drawing two penalties. Jason Gregoire, Chris VandeVelde, Brett Hextall and freshman Corban Knight also scored goals for the Sioux, who won a season-opening game for the seventh time in eight years.

Mike Cichy and Chay Genoway were named the second and third stars of the game for grabbing two assists in the first-ever meeting between the programs.


UND jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first, had it erased before the end of the frame, then took control with two goals in the second. The Sioux outshot Merrimack 40-17 on the night, including a 30-10 advantage over the final 40 minutes.

"There was a lot of good there," UND coach Dave Hakstol said. "I thought we started really well. We had a good first period, other than a few plays toward the end.

"From my vantage point, the key to the hockey game was that we were able to come out with good composure in the second period and regain the lead after giving up a quick two-goal lead at the end of the first period."

Goalie Brad Eidsness (15 saves) had sporadic work in net throughout the night while his team put forth dominant stretches of play.

It took the Warriors, picked to finish 10th in Hockey East, about eight minutes to get their first shot on net. By that time, they were already trailing.

Gregoire tipped a Genoway point shot on the first shift of the game, marking the fastest goal to start a season in more than 10 years. Toews added to that lead by forcing a turnover at neutral ice and finishing a play with a snipe from the top of the right circle.

It was a big start for Toews, a highly touted recruit out of Winnipeg, who spent the end of last season scratched while battling injuries.

"I wanted to come out and move my feet and play as hard as I could, after having a bit of a disappointing second half last year," Toews said. "If you work hard, move your feet and have good linemates and teammates playing the game the right way, everything else takes care of itself. It was good to have the guys going tonight and it was a fun night."


Toews, who also set up Knight's first career goal in the second period, spent the summer preparing to earn a spot in the lineup this season as a sophomore.

"We saw a lot of improvement in Dave over the summer," Genoway said. "He worked hard. We're expecting big things from him and you saw that tonight."

The biggest negative came at the end of the first period, when Merrimack scored a pair of goals in the span of 4:15. Justin Bonitatibus pounced on a rebound at 15:20 and Chris Barton scored on a clean breakaway with 25 seconds left in the frame.

The Sioux regained the lead for good with a pair of goals in the span of 41 seconds, though, in the middle frame. Moments after finishing a penalty kill, Cichy started a rush along the left wing and centered to Genoway, who poked the puck toward Merrimack goalie Joe Cannata (35 saves). Cannata stopped it, but VandeVelde cleaned up the rebound.

Knight, who earned the team's hard hat award, also scored in front at 10:57 of the second period.

"It was pretty surreal," Knight said. "You always dream of scoring your first goal at any level, especially the collegiate level. This one is very, very high on my list. The credit goes to my linemates, though. They made the play happen."

UND will go for a sweep at 7:07 tonight in Ralph Engelstad Arena.

"We've got to come back tomorrow night," Toews said. "We can't be satisfied with what we did tonight."


Notes: Joe Gleason and Danny Kristo both picked up assists for their first college points. . . Merrimack didn't get a shot on goal during their three power plays. . . VandeVelde was 13-4 on faceoffs. . . Tonight is parents night.

UND 5,

Merrimack 2

Key play: UND's two goals 41 seconds apart in the second period for a 4-2 lead.

Key player: David Toews, goal, assist.

UND 5,


First period - 1. UND, Jason Gregoire 1 (Chay Genoway 1, Danny Kristo 1) :39; 2. UND, David Toews 1 (Darcy Zajac 1) 12:31; 3. M, Justin Bonitatibus 1 (Francois Ouimet 1, Joe Cucci 1) 15:20; 4. Chris Barton 1 (Cucci 2, Pat Bowen 1) 19:35. Penalties - Karl Stollery, M, hooking, 2:22; Andrew MacWilliam, UND, holding the stick, 16:32; Cucci, M, hooking, 17:21


Second period - 5. UND, Chris VandeVelde 1 (Genoway 2, Mike Cichy 1) 10:16; 6. UND, Corban Knight 1 (Toews 1, Cichy 2) 10:57. Penalties - Bench minor, UND, too many on ice, 8:03; Kyle Bigos, M, cross-checking, 12:30; VandeVelde, UND, roughing, 17:13

Third period - 7. UND, Brett Hextall 1 (Evan Trupp 1, Joe Gleason 1) 14:51 (pp). Bowen, M, holding, 3:14; Bench minor, M, too many on ice, 5:25; Bobby Kramer, M, roughing, 13:59

Goalie saves - UND: Brad Eidsness 5-5-5 - 15; M: Joe Cannata 8-11-16 - 35

Penalties-minutes - UND 3-6, M 6-12

Power plays - UND 1-6, M 0-3

Attendance - 11,135

Referees - C.J. Beaurline and Brad Shepherd

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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