Faceoffs. Often overlooked, but critically important.
Tonight, a face-off win at the beginning of a DU power play in the second period set up the only goal of the contest, as Pioneer freshman forward Tyler Bozak won the draw back to Chris Butler and tipped Butler’s shot from the point past Lamoureux for the game-winner. Bozak and the rest of the Pioneers were strong in the face-off circle all night, winning 33 of 55 (60%). Aside from the power-play goal, the most critical face-off win came in the Pioneers end with under 30 seconds remaining and Lamoureux pulled for the extra attacker.
North Dakota put one past Mannino with under a minute remaining in the hockey game, but the puck did not completely cross the goal line. It was ruled no goal on the ice, and that ruling held up to video review.
This game featured two of the best goaltenders in the conference, as Lamoureux and Mannino seemed to match each other with one brilliant save after another. Both defenses chipped in, blocking 15 shots each, and the pipes came in handy for both sides. Mannino, who improved to 10-3-0 while notching his third shutout of the season, saw his goals-against average drop to 1.55 to go with a sparkling save percentage of .940. Lamoureux, who fell to 6-5-1, has almost identical marks of 1.56 and .936.
When T.J. Oshie and Ryan Duncan are held scoreless, UND is 0-5-1. In six Sioux victories, Oshie and Duncan have combined for 10 goals and 12 assists.
UND killed four of five Pioneer power plays, and was held scoreless on two opportunities with the man advantage. The Sioux have scored on 15.4% of power play chances and killed penalties at a 89.8% clip on the season. Denver’s season numbers are very similar, standing at 13.4% and 89.7%, respectively.
UND surely missed Darcy Zajac in the face-off department. Look for him to be back in the lineup tomorrow night.
Brad Malone continues to be North Dakota’s most consistently physical forward.
T.J. Oshie and Andrew Kozek both appeared to be injured during the game. It remains to be seen whether either one will miss any time. Kyle Radke would likely step in tomorrow night if Oshie or Kozek can’t go.
If North Dakota gains a split tomorrow night, it will mark the fifth consecutive series split to open the WCHA season. UND previously split weekend series with Michigan Tech, Colorado College, Wisconsin, and Minnesota-Duluth.
Thank you for reading. I welcome your comments and suggestions. For an in-depth look at the match-up between the teams, click here. Check back after Saturday’s contest for more reaction, analysis, and commentary.