UND Hockey: Gophers shut out Sioux in Series OpenerAaron Dell turned in perhaps his best performance in net for the UND men’s hockey team on Friday night. It turned out not to matter. The Sioux offense again went silent in a 2-0 loss to the University of Minnesota in a sold-out Mariucci Arena.
By: Brad Elliott Schlossman, grandforkshearld.com
MINNEAPOLIS — Aaron Dell turned in perhaps his best performance in net this season for the UND men’s hockey team on Friday night.
It turned out not to matter.
The Sioux offense again went silent in a 2-0 loss to the University of Minnesota in a sold-out Mariucci Arena.
It marked the second time in three games that the Sioux have been blanked and their offensive average for the season dipped to 2.44 goals per game, which ranks 11th among 12 Western Collegiate Hockey Association teams.
“When you don’t score a goal, you have to try to do a lot of things better,” said UND coach Dave Hakstol, whose team has finished first or second in offense in each of the last six seasons. “One of the things is that we have to loosen up a little bit offensively. I think we have some guys who are forcing things a little bit.
“We worked awfully hard throughout the night. We played really hard defensively. We were really pressing offensively. That’s natural for guys who want to be leaders and difference-makers in the game. Sometimes, you’ve got to try to step back and loosen up as well.”
The Sioux, who scored more goals than any team in the nation last season, dropped to 3-5-1 overall and 1-4 in league play while failing to score on seven power-play chances, including a five-minute major.
“We weren’t able to capitalize on our chances and that’s not good enough,” center Corban Knight said. “We need to refocus, come back tomorrow and we need to execute better. We didn’t have a high execution level tonight.”
UND again played without standout freshman Rocco Grimaldi, who had another injury setback. The preseason WCHA rookie of the year has now missed six of nine games. He’s listed as day-to-day and is on the trip.
“We don’t spend a lot of time thinking about guys out of the lineup,” Hakstol said. “We knew what we wanted to do and needed to do tonight and we came up short. That’s all. It has nothing to do with who is in or who is out.”
UND will not only try to break out of its scoring slump in tonight’s series finale (7:37 p.m., Big Ten Network), it will also have to solve the country’s hottest goalie.
Senior Kent Patterson, who was named the national player of the month for October, tied a single-season school record with his fifth shutout (in nine games). It matched Robb Stauber’s mark set in 1987-88, when he won Hobey.
Patterson stopped all 24 Sioux shots Friday to improve Minnesota’s mark to 8-1 overall and 5-0 in league play.
“We need to get more shots,” Knight said. “In the third, we didn’t have enough shots. We didn’t give ourselves a chance. Their goalie is seeing the puck well right now. We need to get in front of him, so he can’t see the puck. Those are a couple of simple things we’ve got to do. It’s just simple things that we need to tweak.”
Dell was very strong for the Sioux, stopping 30 of 32 shots — a season high in saves. He only allowed a power-play goal to Nick Bjugstad midway through the second period and a breakaway goal to Tom Serratore midway through the third.
On the eventual game-winning goal, Sioux captain Mario Lamoureux blocked a shot from Gopher defenseman Nate Schmidt and was shaken up on the play. Schmidt got the puck back and his second shot broke Lamoureux’s stick. Eventually, the puck got to an uncovered Bjugstad at the point. He walked down and sniped the high blocker side of the net.
“I think it ended up being a 3-on-0,” Bjugstad said. “If I wouldn’t have scored, I think I would have gotten some heat from some guys.”
The Sioux were pleased with their effort defensively, holding the nation’s top scoring offense to just a pair of goals and a one-for-seven outing on the power play. But UND is searching for offense.
“We got to start by getting some good chances,” Lamoureux said. “We haven’t been consistently getting pucks to their net. In the third period, I don’t know what our shot total was, but it wasn’t enough. We need to do some real basic things.”
Notes: Derek Shepherd and Marco Hunt reffed the game. After this weekend, they will have reffed 11 of the last 13 Sioux-Gopher games. . . Seth Ambroz was called for a major for contact to the head of Lamoureux. He was ejected but will be able to play tonight. . . Minnesota will try to get its first sweep of the Sioux in six seasons and first in Mariucci Arena in 10 years.
Key play: Minnesota’s five-minute penalty kill to start the second period to keep it a 0-0 game.
Key player: Kent Patterson, 24 saves.