The Eagles outworked, outhit, and outhustled North Dakota for the majority of the hockey game and capitalized on several scoring chances in the first period, effectively putting the game out of reach after twenty minutes of play.
Team speed was definitely a factor in this contest, as Boston College created offensive opportunities and took away time and space defensively by being the quicker, more explosive team.
As BC’s forwards applied continuous pressure, North Dakota struggled to break the puck out of its own end and hold the puck in the zone at the offensive blue line. The Fighting Sioux exhibited precious little puck poise in this game; that is to say, UND as a team made poor decisions all over the ice and did not protect the puck. Consequently, Boston College capitalized on turnovers, mistakes, and breakdowns and buried their chances, particularly in the first period.
One key moment in the hockey game occurred at the 13:00 mark of the opening period. North Dakota trailed 1-0 but found itself on the power play. Boston College junior (and Hobey Baker Hat Trick finalist) Nathan Gerbe forced a turnover at the blue line and raced in on Jean-Philippe Lamoureux, beating the senior netminder for a short-handed tally. Less than two minutes later, Gerbe scored again with the teams skating 4 on 4. The scoreboard read 3-0, and the rout was on.
“When we went down 2-0, I thought we were fine,” said North Dakota head coach Dave Hakstol. “Even after the third goal we thought on the bench that things would be okay, but we didn’t get out of the period that way. Once we were down four, that was a little too big of a hill to climb.”
UND didn’t get out of the first period with a three goal deficit because the Eagles’ relentless attack wouldn’t let them. Dan Bertram sent a rocket past Lamoureux with 15 seconds remaining in the opening frame, and North Dakota never recovered.
A second key moment in the game occurred behind the play, away from the eyes of the officials. Eagles junior forward Andrew Orpik went knee-to-knee on UND defenseman Taylor Chorney less than three minutes into the second period, and Chorney would not return to the game. No penalty was called on the play.
I’m not suggesting that a power play at that moment would have changed the outcome. The bigger impact was Taylor Chorney’s absence from the lineup. Freshman blueliner Jake Marto filled Chorney’s role admirably, and scored the lone Sioux goal, but North Dakota missed Taylor Chorney’s speed and puck-handling ability for the final 37 minutes of the game.
With the loss, North Dakota’s season ends at 28-11-4. The senior class of Robbie Bina, Rylan Kaip, Jean-Philippe Lamoureux, and Kyle Radke have played their last game in the green and white. Sioux fans are left wondering whether Taylor Chorney, Ryan Duncan, Joe Finley, Andrew Kozek, T.J. Oshie, and Chris VandeVelde will be back for another run at the title in 2009.
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