Saturday Game React: UND vs. Michigan Tech

Michigan Tech’s senior class wasn’t ready to call it a career just yet.  Tyler Shelast scored a short-handed goal with six seconds remaining in regulation to tie the score at 2 and added the game-winner on the power play two minutes into overtime.  Fellow senior Jimmy Kerr scored the Huskies’ first goal, a power play tally at the 1:19 mark of the third period that cut UND’s lead in half at 2-1.  Kerr assisted on the game-tying goal, and classmate Peter Rouleau notched an assist on the game-winning goal, sending most of the 11,638 fans at Ralph Engelstad Arena unhappily to the exits.

Tyler Shelast notched his 49th and 50th career goals at Michigan Tech while playing in his 150th game.  He is the Huskies’ active leader in goals, points (86), and games played.

Michigan Tech snapped a number of streaks with the victory on Saturday night.  North Dakota’s unbeaten streak ended at 18 games (15-0-3), and an 11-game home unbeaten streak (9-0-2) also came to an end.

UND head coach Dave Hakstol did not seem concerned that the school-record unbeaten streak had come to an end. “Until you mentioned it, I hadn’t even thought about it,” Hakstol told a reporter. “We’re worried about a three-game series. We’ve got to win a game tomorrow night.”

It was the first time this season that UND has lost an overtime game, having gone 2-0-3 before tonight’s game with victories over Minnesota and Minnesota-Duluth in the extra session.

Kerr’s goal snapped a 108:58 shutout streak for North Dakota senior goaltender Jean-Philippe Lamoureux (23 saves), who saw his goals-against average rise to 1.6422 and his save percentage fall to .93393.  Lamoureux still leads the nation in GAA and shutouts (six), but fell to third in save percentage.

For the second consecutive night, special teams play was the difference.  North Dakota was held scoreless on six power play opportunities, despite generating 15 shots on net with the man advantage.  Michigan Tech went 2 for 5 on the power play (5 shots), and added a short-handed goal.

UND opened the scoring on its first shot on net, Brad Miller’s blast which trickled past Michael-Lee Teslak (24 saves) at 4:19 of the first period.  Matt Frattin and Ryan Martens assisted on the goal.  North Dakota has now outscored opponents 41-10 in the opening twenty minutes this year, and lost for just the third time when scoring the first goal (9-3-4).  When UND’s opponent scores first, the Sioux are 15-6-0.

A key stretch of the hockey game was the second half of the first period. North Dakota could not extend its lead, despite having three consecutive power plays in a seven minute span. The Sioux put ten shots on net in those six minutes with the man-advantage, but could not break the game open.

Brad Miller returned the favor to his linemate in the second period, dropping a pass for Matt Frattin that the freshman buried to give North Dakota a comfortable two-goal cushion.  But penalties would come back to haunt the Sioux.  After Frattin’s goal, UND was whistled for two minors (Ryan Duncan for holding at 0:36 of the third period and Chris VandeVelde for hooking at 1:27 of overtime), and Michigan Tech cashed in on both of those opportunities, tallying only one shot on goal on each power play.

One area of excellence for North Dakota was in the face-off circle, where the Sioux dominated all night long. UND won 45 of 72 draws (62.5%), a staggering statistic. Chris VandeVelde (won 17, lost 3) and Andrew Kozek (won 7, lost 1) led the way for the Sioux. North Dakota also gave Michigan Tech a face-off lesson on Friday night, winning 32 of 53 (60.4%). VandeVelde was the face-off star in the opener as well, winning 10 draws and losing only 4.

Taylor Chorney led UND with 7 shots on goal, while T.J. Oshie and Brad Miller had 3 shots a piece. Michigan Tech seniors Peter Rouleau (5 shots) and Tyler Shelast (4 shots) paced the Huskies.

Six of North Dakota’s last nine WCHA first-round home series have gone to a third game.  Take heart, Sioux fans: UND has won the previous five Game 3’s, outscoring opponents 28-6, with only one close contest (3-2 [OT] vs. Denver in 2003) in the bunch.  The other games were lopsided affairs: 10-0 vs. MSU-Mankato (1999), 9-4 vs. Denver (2000), 4-0 vs. Minnesota-Duluth (2001), and 3-0 vs. MSU-Mankato (2006).

Five of UND’s last 11 home playoff games have gone to overtime.  North Dakota holds a record of 3-2 in those games.

My rant about low attendance for Game 1’s around the WCHA did not fall on deaf ears. Each conference playoff series saw a jump in spectators for Game 2. Mankato saw the biggest increase with an attendance of 4744 (an increase of 546), followed by St. Cloud State (4270, +265), Colorado College (6149, +253), and Denver University (4820, +127). Even UND crammed 66 more fans into Saturday’s game, with attendance announced at 11,638. And no, I don’t think I had anything to do with the increase. But maybe I did…..

Aside from Sunday night’s Game 3 at Ralph Engelstad Arena, the only other first-round series yet to be decided is the matchup between the Gophers and Mavericks at Mankato. Colorado College, Denver, and St. Cloud have all punched their ticket to the WCHA Final Five.

Thank you for reading. I welcome your comments and suggestions. For reaction to Friday’s Game 1, click here. For more on the matchup between the teams, click here. Check back after Sunday’s series finale for more information, commentary, and reaction.

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