UND men's hockey: Any win's a good win for the Sioux

Upon burying the empty-net goal to seal UND's 5-2 win over Minnesota-Duluth on Friday, Jason Gregoire immediately skated over to Brett Hextall and apologized for not letting him finish a hat trick.

UND Sophomore Ben Blood eyes the puck while being checked by Minnesota Duluth's Kyle Schmidt during the first period Friday night at the Ralph Engelstad Arena. Herald photo by Sarah Kolberg.

Upon burying the empty-net goal to seal UND's 5-2 win over Minnesota-Duluth on Friday, Jason Gregoire immediately skated over to Brett Hextall and apologized for not letting him finish a hat trick.

No apologies needed.

"We won the game," Hextall said. "That's good enough."

After a month of outshooting and outplaying opponents with not much to show for it, the Sioux are appreciative of any way it can earn a victory.

UND scored three times on the power play, once shorthanded and used a stellar goaltending effort by sophomore Brad Eidsness (31 saves) to improve to 15-11-5 overall and 10-10-3 in Western Collegiate Hockey Association. The Sioux moved within two points of Colorado College and fifth place, which is needed in order to host a first-round playoff game.


The recipe for this victory was the same that many opponents have used recently: Win despite being outshot and outplayed five-on-five.

"It was kind of the exact opposite of some of our play in the last month in a half," UND coach Dave Hakstol said. "We feel like we've been playing great five-on-five, outshooting teams by 15 to 20, but we've been coming up on the short end of the scoreboard. Tonight, we didn't do a very good job five-on-five. Give Duluth credit for that. They made it tough as far as having any time and space, but our special teams and goaltending was the difference."

Hextall scored twice and Matt Frattin, Danny Kristo and Gregoire each added goals for UND, which has found a sudden explosion of offense.

The Sioux lit up the scoreboard in an 8-1 win over St. Cloud State last Saturday and tacked on five more against the Bulldogs and goalie Kenny Reiter, who entered the weekend with the league's second-best save percentage.

The power play, which had an 0-for-32 run before last weekend, has now connected on 7-of-14 chances, while the Sioux have killed 16 straight penalties.

Defensively, the Sioux held the WCHA's leading scorer, Jack Connolly, without a point.

"They are a good offensive hockey team," Eidsness said Duluth, which outshot UND 33-21. "They throw a lot of pucks on the net. It was nice to get shots early and get into the game and that rolled on through the rest of the game."

Hextall, who has 10 points in his last six games, credited Eidsness for helping the Sioux overcome an average performance and lowest shot total of the season.


"I thought Eids was great tonight," Hextall said. "Eids is a big-time goalie. We're going to win a lot of games if he keeps playing like he did tonight."

UND got off to an early lead thanks to an efficient power play.

Frattin, playing the point on the power play for the first time this season, sniped a goal from back there at 12:04 of the opening frame.

The Sioux converted on their second power-play chance of the day as well. Chris VandeVelde (10 points in last four games) dished the puck to Hextall, who carried it from the right circle to near the goal line. From there, he released a wrister and beat Bulldog goalie Kenny Reiter on the short side.

The Bulldogs had a golden chance to get back in the game early in the second period when Hextall and Ben Blood were called for minor penalties just 19 seconds apart. But as the lengthy five-on-three came to an end, Derrick LaPoint picked up the puck in the corner and hit Hextall coming out of the penalty box. Hextall skated alone on a breakaway and beat Reiter on the blocker side for a 3-0 lead.

Kristo added to the lead when he finished off a give-and-go with Evan Trupp early in the third.

Eidsness lost his shutout when Justin Fontaine's shot from the top of the right circle hit the skate of a Sioux defender and went in the net at 9:13 of the third. The Bulldogs added another goal by Jake Hendrickson - the first of the freshman's career - at 17:22, but Gregoire iced the game.

"We have to be better five-on-five tomorrow," Hextall said. "We weren't good enough."


Notes: North Dakota Governor John Hoeven was in attendance, as were former Sioux and current NHL players Matt Greene and Mike Commodore. . . Jason Gregoire has the rotating 'A' for the alternate captain this weekend. . . Captain Chay Genoway, who missed his 22nd straight game with post-concussion syndrome, exercised Friday morning for the first time in more than three months. Hakstol says it's a good sign, but the team still isn't sure if he's going to be able to play again this season. . . Kyle Schmidt returned to the lineup for Duluth after missing a month with a pinched nerve. The Bulldogs were 3-4 without Schmidt, the team's fourth-leading goal scorer.

UND 5,

Minnesota-Duluth 2

Key play: Brett Hextall's shorthanded goal for a 3-0 Sioux lead in the second period.

Key player: Hextall, 2 goals.

UND 5,


First period -- 1. UND, Matt Frattin 3 (Brett Hextall 6, Brad Malone 10) 12:04 (pp); 2. UND, Hextall 10 (Chris VandeVelde 17) 18:51 (pp). Penalties -- VandeVelde, UND, checking from behind, 8:59; Jordan Fulton, MD, tripping, 11:10; Drew Akins, MD, contact to the head cross-checking, 17:32


Second period -- 3. UND, Hextall 11 (Derrick LaPoint 12) 4:24 (sh). Penalties -- Hextall, UND, slashing, 2:14; Ben Blood, UND, boarding, 2:33; Frattin, UND, holding, 7:05; Scott Kishel, MD, interference, 12:46

Third period -- 4. UND, Danny Kristo 10 (Evan Trupp 19, Corban Knight 4) 1:46; 5. MD, Justin Fontaine 18 (David Grun 6) 9:13; 6. MD, Jake Hendrickson 1 (Keegan Flaherty 3, Drew Olson 2) 17:22; 7. UND, Jason Gregoire 14 (Ben Blood 6, VandeVelde 18) 19:42 (en). Penalties -- Mike Montgomery, MD, hooking, :37; Akins, MD, contact to the head, 3:00; Frattin, UND, hooking, 3:27; Cody Danberg, MD, slashing, 5:51; Kyle Schmidt, MD, contact to the head, 9:56; VandeVelde, UND, slashing, 10:32; Andrew MacWilliam, UND, interference, 13:23

Goalie saves -- UND: Brad Eidsness 10-10-11 -- 31; MD: Kenny Reiter 7-5-4 -- 16

Penalties-minutes -- UND 7-14, MD 7-14

Power plays -- UND 3-7, MD 0-7

Attendance -- 11,725

Referees -- C.J. Beaurline and Peter Friesema

WCHA men


W L T Pts.

Denver 15 4 4 34

St. Cloud State 15 7 3 33

Minnesota-Duluth 14 8 1 29

Wisconsin 13 7 3 29

Colorado College 11 9 3 25

UND 10 10 3 23

Minnesota 9 12 2 20


Alaska-Anchorage 8 14 2 18

MSU-Mankato 7 15 1 15

Michigan Tech 4 20 0 8

Overall records

Denver 21-6-4, Wisconsin 18-8-4, St. Cloud State 20-9-4, Colorado College 17-11-3, Minnesota-Duluth 18-12-1, UND 15-11-5, Minnesota 14-15-2, MSU-Mankato 13-16-2, Alaska-Anchorage 10-17-2, Michigan Tech 5-23-1

Friday's results

UND 5, Minnesota-Duluth 2

Minnesota 3, Colorado College 0

MSU-Mankato 5, Alaska-Anchorage 2

St. Cloud State 5, Wisconsin 1

Denver 5, Michigan Tech 2

Today's games

Minnesota-Duluth at UND, 7:07 p.m.

Colorado College at Minnesota

Alaska-Anchorage at MSU-Mankato

St. Cloud State at Wisconsin

Michigan Tech at Denver

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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