Eidsness Wins Goalie Showdown
North Dakota Advances to WCHA Semis
by Scott Stone/CHN Reporter
ST. PAUL, Minn. This story wanted to be written after two periods, but North Dakota and its goaltender Brad Eidsness wouldn’t let it happen.
After two scoreless periods, North Dakota tallied two third-period goals, one shorthanded, en route to a 2-0 win in the play-in game of the WCHA Final Five in a battle of sophomore netminders, Eidsness and Minnesota-Duluth’s Kenny Reiter.
“I listened on the teleconference for the league on Tuesday and I think it was (Denver coach) George Gwozdecky who said, ‘Goaltending is the name of the game,’” North Dakota head coach Dave Hakstol said. “I think he said it very well and that’s absolutely the case. Giving up two or giving up three is the difference in playoff time.”
At the 2009 Final Five, then senior goaltender Alex Stalock was named tournament MVP, guiding the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs to an improbable run to a WCHA conference tournament win, allowing just one goal in three games including a 3-0 win in last year’s semifinals against North Dakota.
In the 2010 version of the Final Five on Thursday night, Reiter attempted to do his best Alex Stalock impersonation and through two periods had stymied the Fighting Sioux on all 25 shots he faced. Several were of the sprawling variety with his toes, blocker and stick.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the ice, Eidsness was doing his job and came up big when North Dakota needed him to. He held the Bulldogs scoreless, stopping all 10 of the shots he had come his way.
Fighting Sioux forward Jason Gregoire was on that team that ran into the Stalock buzz-saw last season and knew that this game would come down to the wire once they saw Reiter trying to do replicate last year’s performance. Luckily for North Dakota, it finally found a way to beat a Bulldog goaltender in the Final Five.
The sophomore netted the eventual game winner, shorthanded at 12:22 of the third, blasting a loose puck in the slot high above Reiter’s glove breaking the scoreless tie, following a poor giveaway by UMD.
“We knew it wasn’t going to be a high-scoring game and finally cracking Reiter was nice,” said Gregoire of his 20th goal on the season. “We kind of had a feeling that whoever scored the first goal, it would make a huge impact.”
The goaltending battle came down to a couple bounces of the puck tonight and North Dakota got the best of those bounces. And the biggest of those may have come in a no-goal.
Just 1:23 into the final frame, Minnesota-Duluth thought that they had broken the scoreless tie but a high-sticking call coming off the stick of junior Cody Danberg, nullified what would have been the game’s first goal.
“It was close,” said Minnesota-Duluth head coach Scott Sandelin of the no-goal. “The nice thing here is they got a lot of different camera angles as opposed to during the season where it’s just the overhead. Maybe that would have worked in our favor if it had just been the overhead.”
Then came the bounce for the eventual game winner.
With North Dakota on the penalty kill, junior defenseman Derrick LaPoint made a terrific play to keep the puck in the Bulldog zone, beating the puck to the blue line. LaPoint then fed a wide open Chris VandeVelde just in front of Reiter in between the hash marks. VandeVelde made a couple of moves before bouncing one off Reiter’s blocker; then it bounded to Gregoire in the slot who buried it past Reiter giving the Fighting Sioux the lead for good.
“It was an awful quick play,” said Hakstol of the game winner. “Kenny (Reiter) makes a great save on the VandeVelde short breakaway and I guess fortunately for us Jason Gregoire made a little bit better play.”
The last big bounce came with 2:00 to go when junior Evan Trupp broke a 20-game goalless streak, corralling a Danny Kristo shot that ricocheted off the endboards and firing it into an open net past a sprawling Reiter to round out the scoring.
“Goaltending at both ends of the rink tonight was what we’ve come to expect in our league,” said Hakstol of the two netminders' performances. “It was great.”
Eidsness recorded his third shutout of the year and his second in his last three games stopping all 22 shots in the win as the sophomore held the WCHA’s best power play to 0-for-5.
“You kind of see that happening at the other end of the ice and you know you just have to be patient and wait for it to come to you,” said Eidsness. “Fortunately we have a team has been able to carry the puck a lot and that’s a situation that I’ve been in before and I’ve learned to adjust to that.”