Oct. 16, 2009

* Courtesy of UND Athletics

GRAND FORKS, N.D. - Kitty Kallen's song "Little Things Mean a Lot" hit No. 1 on the billboard charts in 1954, 55 years ago.

Little things made a big difference tonight for the University of North Dakota men's hockey team.

The Sioux scored a two power-play goals, one while shorthanded, one at even strength and outshot Minnesota 43-22 in a 4-0 whitewashing by the Sioux in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association opener for both teams.

In addition, one player on all four Sioux lines had at least one point and one player on all three sets of defensemen did as well, attesting to the balance that is showing to be the strength of the 2009-10 Fighting Sioux.

A sellout of 11,840 at Ralph Engelstad Arena ate it up as sophomore goalie Brad Eidsness (Chestermere, Alberta) made 22 saves to earn his second career shutout and No. 1 star of the game designation by the media.

It was UND's first shutout of the Gophers since the 1999-00 season.

The Sioux, ranked 4th nationally in two polls this week, took a 1-0 lead on a power-play goal by sophomore forward Jason Gregoire (Winnipeg, Manitoba) at 2:17 of the first period and never let the Gophers, 8/9 in the two polls, back in it.

Junior defenseman Derrick LaPoint (Eau Claire, Wis.), coming back from a devastating broken leg that cut short his sophomore season, made it 2-0 on a shorthanded goal at 4:21 of the second period with his fourth career goal and first in his last 17 games.

Sioux captain and senior defenseman Chay Genoway (Morden, Manitoba) scored on a power play at 5:56 of the third period on a slapper from the right point to make it 3-0 at 5:56 of the third period.

Sophomore Mario Lamoureux (Grand Forks) wrapped it up at 8:18 on a rebound goal off a shot from Darcy Zajac (Winnipeg), delighting his hometown fans.

In continuing the "little things" theme, the Sioux (3-0 overall, 1-0 WCHA) were 2-for-6 on the power play, held the Gophers scoreless on their five chances and held a commanding 42-26 edge in faceoff wins.

"We came out strong and obviously Minnesota is a good team, so we had a little extra energy through the rivalry," LaPoint said. "We had a good start, we played hard, and we made it simple."

LaPoint was late coming into the offensive zone on a Sioux penalty kill. Teammate Evan Trupp (Anchorage, Alaska) spotted him breaking free into zone and fed him perfectly to beat Gopher goalie Alex Kangas (39 saves) with his shot.

"Trupp and (Brad) Malone made the play, working it down low," LaPoint said. "I just saw an opportunity. They they left the blue line kind of wide open there, and I made the jump. Trupp made a good pass right on my tape. I was fortunate, Kangas really came out and played that one, but I floated it past his shoulder."

LaPoint said he's still feeling some soreness in his leg from last season's injury. During the week, UND coach Dave Hakstol said LaPoint was back at about 90 percent.

After watching him perform tonight, Hakstol changed his mind. "I said Wednesday he was about 90 percent of the way back toward being healthy and in true form," Hakstol said. "Tonight he took the next 10 percent step."

The Sioux seemed to get stronger and better as the game wore out, outshooting the Gophers 32-14 over the final two periods and outscoring them 3-0.

"It's kind of been a reoccurring theme this year," Eidsness said. "We've been able to control a lot of play."

Eidsness credited his forwards and defensemen for making life tough on Minnesota. "They really put a lot of pressure on guys," Eidsness said. "I don't think it was a pleasant place to be, in our zone, tonight."

Eidsness said going through his rookie season taught him a lot.

"Things seemed to happen a little faster last year," he said. "This year I think things slowed down a little in mine mind. It's allowed me to think the game better, to be in better spots."

Hastol said he felt the Sioux were good from the onset. "I didn't think our play varied a whole lot tonight," he said. "We were pretty steady and consistent throughout the game. Certainly it's not where we want to be a month or two from now."

Hakstol singled out the line of Lamoureux, Zajac and freshman Carter Rowney (Sexsmith, Alberta). Lamoureux and Zajac tied with Genoway for the team lead in shot on goal with five and Rowney had one shot and was solid overall.

"They did a lot of good work in all three zones," Hakstol said. "Nothing spectacular. They were just solid."

The Sioux held Minneosta's Jordan Schroeder, an NHL first-round draft pick, without a shot on goal. Yet Hakstol said the Sioux did not focus on stopping him.

"It's hard to pick one or two players out on that team," Hakstol said. "They're loaded with good players up front. It's a little early in the year for us to be overly concerned with individuals on the other team."

Minnesota coach Don Lucia noted that the Sioux won 60 percent of the draws in a sweep of Merrimack College a week ago and said the Sioux might have been better than that tonight.

"If you don't start with the puck," Lucia said, "then you're chasing all night. It just seemed like that's what we were doing most of the night."