by Virg Foss/Staff Writer
It may not have been pretty, but those up-and-down weekends from earlier in the season are a thing of the past, what with North Dakota winning its seventh straight game Saturday night, sweeping the weekend from Alaska-Anchorage.
The Seawolves outplayed, outworked and outshot the Fighting Sioux in front of another sellout crowd (11,779) at Ralph Engelstad Arena,
But thanks to outstanding efforts of some big names you'd expect to hear — junior center T.J. Oshie and senior goalie Jean-Philippe Lamoureux — the Fighting Sioux found a way, and moved into second place, ahead of idle Denver, which has four games in hand.
"They have some difference-makers and we still have some guys who are maturing into difference makers," Anchorage coach Dave Shyiak said. "Their difference-makers made a difference tonight.''
Oshie, who has points in his last eight games, put the Sioux ahead to stay at 1-0 at 3:45 of the first period when he snapped off a wrist shot on a 1-on-4 rush that beat Anchorage rookie goalie Bryce Christianson over the glove on the short side. Christianson, who came to the team in mid-season, made his first career start Friday, but after it become 2-0 on three UND shots, he was pulled.
"Usually, I get yelled at trying to come in 1-on-4," Oshie said. "I kind of saw the 'D' was flat-footed and I had some pretty good speed built up on the other end. I saw a hole, and I took it. Maybe I caught their goalie sleeping a little bit."
After the Seawolves outshot the Sioux 16-3 in the second period and chopped a 2-0 deficit in half, Oshie set up sophomore center Chris VandeVelde for a key goal at 2:36 of the third period to make it 3-1.
"No. 1, Alaska Anchorage deserves a ton of credit," UND coach Dave Hakstol said. "They played hard from the drop of the puck through 60 minutes."
Yet UND, on a rare off night offensively, found a way to win, and Hakstol was thankful for that.
"They just had more jump than us tonight," Hakstol said. "We didn't have a whole lot of legs. The second period, we played virtually 20 minutes straight-legged."
Even so, UND won.
"You look at the positives out of it, and we found a way to get two points," Hakstol said. "We found a way to gut it out in the third period and make the play to get a two-goal separation. It wasn't pretty, but I can say one thing. A few games from the first half (of the season) that went the other way, maybe we just got a little bit of an even-up tonight."
Hakstol, too, pointed to the play of Oshie and Lamoureux as keys to the victory.
"Individual efforts make a big difference," Hakstol said. "Phil Lamoureux had a huge individual effort and stole two points for us. Individual efforts like T.J. had in scoring the goal and on some of his penalty kills, those make the difference on a night like tonight where, as a team, it's just not there."
Said Oshie, "On the scoreboard, maybe it looks like we controlled the game out there. But that wasn't the case. They (Anchorage) came in here tonight and took it to us. I thought we got kind of lucky out there tonight.
"The standings don't show too much in this league. They're in last place, and they were playing like a top-five team. They caught us flat-footed. Luckily, Phil was in there and he had a big game, huge game. Without him, the score could have been a lot different."
Lamoureux, like most goalies, prefers a busy night, and he certainly had one.
"I feel comfortable when I get lots of shots," said Lamoureux, who extended his school record for consecutive starts to 50 games.