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Women's hockey: Sioux search for goals

Prior to the season, UND women's hockey coach Brian Idalski felt that his team would struggle to score goals, but strong goaltending would hold the Sioux in games.

Prior to the season, UND women's hockey coach Brian Idalski felt that his team would struggle to score goals, but strong goaltending would hold the Sioux in games.

It took a while for that scenario to start playing out, but in the second half of the season, that's been the story.

The Sioux, despite only allowing two goals per game during the last five, are winless in that stretch. They enter this weekend's home series against Minnesota-Duluth (2:07 p.m. Saturday, 2:07 p.m. Sunday) scoreless in 141 minutes, 43 seconds -- a span of two-plus games.

Minnesota's Finnish Olympic goaltender Noora Raty blanked the Sioux in back-to-back games last weekend in Ridder Arena.

"That was one of the most frustrating games for me ever," Idalski said. "I felt bad for our kids. They competed extremely hard. In the second period of both nights, I thought we kicked their butt up and down the ice and had nothing to show for it. It's not like it was our role players getting chances. Our best players were getting breakaways, 2-on-1s and we're not capitalizing.

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"It would have been nice to get a carrot to keep them going, but that wasn't the case. It was very frustrating."

The good part for the Sioux: The goaltending has been fantastic. Redshirt freshman Jorid Dagfinrud took over the No. 1 spot when Stephanie Ney was injured and Dagfinrud is playing to keep that job.

Since Christmas break, Dagfinrud has a 1.57 goals-against average and a .943 save percentage in seven games. Raty is the only Western Collegiate Hockey Association goaltender with better numbers than that this season.

"At the start of the year, I thought our goaltending was unsettled, to say the least," Idalski said, "but we were getting a lot of pucks to the net. That seems to be reversed now. We've been struggling finishing, but our goaltending has been solid and given us an opportunity to win each hockey game in the second half. That's all you can ask for out of your goaltending."

The Sioux will need more of that strong goaltending this weekend against Minnesota-Duluth, ranked No. 5 nationally this week. The Bulldogs swept the Sioux in Duluth earlier this season with the aid of 25 power plays.

"That was brutal," Idalski said.

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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