North Dakota Bounces Back
by Virg Foss/Staff Writer
GRAND FORKS, N.D. The smallest man in the lineup made the biggest play of the game for North Dakota on Saturday.
Evan Trupp, a senior wing from Anchorage, Alaska, who is generously listed at 5-foot-9, 174 pounds, played the role of a giant for the Sioux in a 4-1 WCHA victory over arch-rival Minnesota.
Just 34 seconds after Minnesota defenseman Mark Alt scored his first career goal on a high flip, fluke shot from the right point that sailed over the shoulder of a Sioux defenseman and then over the shoulder of a screened Sioux goalie Aaron Dell, Trupp struck.
He blocked a breakout pass from Minnesota's Nick Larson with his skate, buzzed in alone on Gopher goalie Kent Patterson and beat him 5-hole with a wrist shot.
Suddenly, Minnesota's 1-0 lead at 8:54 turned into a 1-1 tie at 9:28 as the momentum swung UND's way with Trupp's 9th goal of the season.
That keyed a split of the weekend series between the two rivals and moved the Sioux back into first place by themselves, one point ahead of Denver.
"Evan Trupp just went out and made a play," UND coach Dave Hakstol said. "He anticipated a play, created a turnover and made no mistake. He scored a typical Evan Trupp goal, right through the 5-hole. For me, that was the play of the game."
In retrospect, it was the goal that sank the Gophers as well. Minnesota mustered just 22 shots on goal and went 0-for-6 on the power play with just 6 shots on goal.
Five minutes later, with the Sioux working on a 5-on-3 power play, Brad Malone put the Sioux ahead to stay at 14:12. He scored from the right slot off a feed from Sioux captain Chay Genoway, the first of two power-play goals for the Sioux.
Both teams missed great chances in the scoreless second period. UND's Jason Gregoire missed on a shorthanded breakaway and the nation's leading goal-scorer, Matt Frattin hit the pipe minutes later.
Minnesota's Jay Barriball hit the crossbar later in the period and Jake Hansen's goal shortly after that was disallowed because he knocked the puck in with a high stick.
UND broke open the game in the third period with a break of its own.
Sophmore Corban Knight was credited with his 12th goal of the season at 4:12 to put the Sioux up 3-1. A centering pass from Brett Hextall (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) hit Knight's body and defelected past Patterson.
Sophomore Danny Kristo added a power-play goal at 14:57 to close it out at 4-1. After initially getting knocked down in the corner by hulking Gopher defenseman Seth Helgenson, Kristo work his way to the front of the net and swatted in his own rebound as he was being wrestled down from behind by Helgeson.
The victory moved the Sioux to 12-4 in the WCHA and 17-6-2 overall. A crowd of 11,955 _ third largest in Ralph Engelstad Arena history _ was on hand to witness this.
The Sioux and Dell weren't rattled at all by Alt's flukey floater from 60 feet out.
"Coach just said keep your heads up, keep going," Trupp said, "because we weren't really playing bad. Sure enough, we responded right away."
The Sioux responded to Alt's stunning goal by outshooting the Gophers 17-5 in the first period and taking the lead 2-1.
Special team play was big as well. Besides blanking the Gophers on their six power plays, the Sioux converted 2 of 6 on their own and manufactured 15 of their 26 shots on goal in the game on the power play.
"They have an in-your-face type penalty kill," Trupp said. "It's hard to get around. We stuck to our game plan. We threw pucks at the net and got some bounces."
Trupp's assist on Kristo's power-play goal was a prime example. "I definitely kind of threw a muffin on net and Kristo was able to bang in a rebound," Trupp said.
Tempers flared as usual in a Sioux-Gopher game, but neither team played out of control, perhaps indicating the importance of the two points. "You can't expect a rivalry game like that to be pretty at all," Trupp said.
The win looked mighty pretty to the Sioux afterwards, though, after the Gophers won 3-2 Friday night.
Dell said he barely saw Alt's shot. "It went up, and it was flipping," Dell said. "I didn't really see it until the last second. It was going over the net, and it dropped on me right at the last second. It was just a weird, fluke play."
Dell kept his composure, though. "You can't let it get to you," he said. "You got to forget about it., and worry about the next play."
The Gophers had hopes of a rare sweep in Grand Forks after Friday's win. "The only disappointment I had tonight was that I didn't think we played as good of a game," Gopher coach Don Lucia said. "We just couldn't get anything going."
Lucia said he felt good when the Gophers escaped the extended 5-on-3 and trailed just 2-1 after one period. "I felt coming out of that period only down one, that was a win for us," Lucia said. "It was still basically a one-shot game."
Hakstol said it was a different style of a game tonight. "We played 60 minutes tonight," he said. "We didn't last night. Tonight we played 60 minutes, regardless of the difference in style or pace of the game."