Feb. 28, 2010

Courtesy of North Dakota Athletics

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - For a league-best eighth straight season, the Fighting Sioux will be at home for the first round of the WCHA playoffs in two weeks.

Forwards Danny Kristo, Chris VandeVelde and Matt Frattin each scored and Brad Eidsness made 27 saves to lead the Sioux to a 3-2 win over Colorado College tonight, capping off a series sweep and clinching a home playoff spot.

It was the first sweep in Colorado Springs since 1998-99 for the Sioux, who have won five straight games.

The Sioux survived a furious final few minutes in the third period to hang on for the win. Trailing 3-1 and with goalie Joe Howe on the bench for an extra attacker, CC's Tyler Johnson deflected a point shot past Eidsness to cut the lead to one with 2:09 remaining.

Colorado College then swarmed Eidsness and the Sioux zone for the game's final two minutes, throwing shot after shot at the sophomore netminder with Howe again on the bench. CC's best chance came on a rebound in front with 70 seconds remaining, but CC senior Brian McMillin was stuffed on the doorstep by Eidsness, who was spectacular once again and calm under pressure late in regulation.

Kristo's second-period goal, a brilliant individual effort, proved to be vital and held as the game-winner. The freshman forward stole the puck in the CC zone and walked in alone on Howe, going forehand to backhand to beat the rookie goalie for his 12th goal of the season.

Kristo's goal came just four minutes after the Sioux had taken the lead on Matt Frattin's fifth goal in as many games. Winger Evan Trupp (Jr., Anchorage, Alaska) stole the puck from a Tiger defender in the CC corner and threaded a perfect centering pass to Frattin on the doorstep, who blasted a one-timer past Howe for a 2-1 lead at 10:19 of the period.

UND opened the scoring on the power-play for the second straight night, with senior forward Chris VandeVelde (Moorhead, Minn.) slamming home a rebound at 16:42 of the first period. It was VandeVelde's 13th goal and team-leading 31st point of the season.

CC tied the game 1:42 into the second period on defenseman Mike Boivin's first career goal, but the Sioux would regain the lead for good on the goals by Frattin and Kristo.

The Sioux penalty kill went 5-for-5 for the second straight night and has now thwarted 28 of the last 29 opponent power-plays. UND went 1-for-2 with the man advantage.

Eidsness stopped 12 shots in the third period en route to his 27-save night, finishing the weekend with 53 saves on 57 shots.

Frattin finished the night with a goal and an assist to extend his career-long point streak to five games. Linemate Brad Malone (Jr., Miramichi, New Brunswick) had three assists.

North Dakota, 18-11-5 and 13-10-3 in the WCHA, will close out the regular season at home next weekend against Michigan Tech.

The Sioux can still finish as high as third place in the WCHA standings.