Nov. 5, 2010

Courtesy of North Dakota Athletics

GRAND FORKS, N.D. - It's a tough challenge enough facing the No. 2 team in the nation when you have a full roster.

The UND Fighting Sioux, missing four players tonight because of illness, injury or suspension, overcame all of that to hand the Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs (6-1-2) their first loss of the season in front of 11,638 fans at Ralph Engelstad Arena.

The Sioux (5-3-1, 4-1-0 WCHA) took over sole possession of first place in the Western Colleigate Hockey Association with the 4-2 victory, a point ahead of UMD, Denver and Wisconsin.

The Sioux won with stiffling defense and balanced offense. UND limited the Bulldogs to 16 shots on goal and got goals from four different players -- two on power plays -- in a solid team effort.

UND never trailed after freshman wing Derek Rodwell (Taber, Alberta) knocked in a rebound at 2:22 of the second period, his third of the season.

After Travis Oleksuk tied it at 16:25 on a 4-on-4 goal, senior wing Evan Trupp (Anchorage, Alaska) scored his second of the season on a power play at 17:57 for a 2-1 lead after two.

Senior wing Matt Frattin (Edmonton, Alberta) scored his team-leading eighth of the season at 5:05 of the third period and sophomore center Corban Knight (High River, Alberta) iced it with an empty-net goal with 11 seconds left.

UND's deep roster showed. It was hardly a patchwork lineup Sioux coach Dave Hakstol cobbled together.

"I guess I don't look at it that way," Hakstol said. "It's a different lineup, but I've got 26 guys on this team. Everybody works hard every day. I think we have a lot of guys who maybe aren't in the lineup every day, but they can step in and do a job for their team."

Duluth's loss continued a frustrating trend for Bulldog coach Scott Sandelin, a former UND player and assistant coach. His teams are now 3-15-2 against the Sioux in Grand Forks since he took over the Bulldogs.

Solid and workmanlike are two words that described UND's performance. "There was nothing spectacular," Hakstol said, "there was just a bunch of guys who worked together, played hard together, and won a game."

Rodwell, who won the Hard Hat award tonight for his gritty performance, batted a puck out of the air on a rebound of a Trupp shot to break the scoreless tie.

"It was just a great play by my linemates," Rodwell said. "Trupper just getting it on net, and it happened to bounce up in the air. I got a pretty good whack at it, enough to get it in."

Trupp used junior wing Jason Gregoire (Winnipeg, Manitoba) for a screen for his wrist shot to put the Sioux ahead to stay at 2-1 late in the second period.

His first goal in five games highlighted a two-point game for him. "When I got the puck on the power play, I saw Gregs (Gregoire) in front of the net," Trupp said. "I wasn't expecting it to go straight in. I was hoping for a rebound or a tip. Luckily enough, it went in."

Sophomore Aaron Dell (Airdrie, Alberta) was very good with 14 saves. All he gave up was a perfect passing play to set up Justin Fontaine's power-play goal at 15:49 of the third period and Oleksuk's goal on a fortunate deflection right to him.

Dell made the save of the game with the Sioux leading 3-1 and working on a power play midway through the second period. Duluth's Kyle Schmidt had a clean breakaway from his own blue line, but Dell snuffed his chance easily.

Trupp certainly noticed the performance of guys like defensemen Dillon Simpson (Edmonton, Alberta) and Joe Gleason (Edina, Minn.) and forwards Brent Davidson (Morden, Manitoba) and Brett Bruneteau (Omaha, Neb.), who stepped in admirably for the missing players.

"They all played like they had something to prove," Trupp said. "They all played very well, I thought. Throughout the whole lineup, everyone was doing the simple things, the smart plays."

Duluth's last chance disappeared when Fontaine was penalized for shooting the puck at Dell after the whistle had sounded stopping play with 97 seconds left

On the power play and Duluth's goalie pulled for an extra attacker, Sioux captain Chay Genoway (Morden, Manitoba) hit the post flush on his scoring attempt, but then fed Knight seconds later for his empty-net goal.

Genoway, who missed much of last season with a concussion, drew two assists and lots of ice time.

"I think there's maybe one notch left to climb," Hakstol said of Genoway's play. "Things are coming more and more natural under pressure. That can only happen in time. We're the first week in November, and he's getting pretty darn close."