Sioux win in overtime
ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- It was a late, 10:07 p.m. starting time Friday night and there wasn't a lot of action to keep fans from falling asleep. But the UND men's hockey team rewarded those who stayed awake, while keeping its grip on first place in t...
ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- It was a late, 10:07 p.m. starting time Friday night and there wasn't a lot of action to keep fans from falling asleep.
But the UND men's hockey team rewarded those who stayed awake, while keeping its grip on first place in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.
Chay Genoway scored 17 seconds into overtime to give the Sioux a 2-1 victory over Alaska-Anchorage in front of 3,679 at Sullivan Arena.
With the win, UND improved to 19-11-3 and 14-6-3 in league play. The Sioux needed the victory to stay tied atop the league standings with Denver, which also won an overtime game on Friday night.
UND and Denver have 31 points each -- three ahead of third-place Wisconsin. The Pioneers have played one more league game than the Sioux.
On the winning play, Jason Gregoire took the puck hard to the net and Anchorage goalie Bryce Christianson left a rebound at the side of the crease. Brett Hextall picked it up and blindly dished it back to the inside of the left circle.
Genoway pinched in from the point and roofed a shot over Christianson for his third goal of the season. He jumped up and down on the ice as his teammates jumped off the bench join him in celebration.
"I've had my fair share of chances this year and the puck hasn't gone in," Genoway said. "It's nice to get one at a critical time. It was a huge win for us."
The Sioux, who remained at No. 12 in the PairWise Rankings, were sluggish throughout much of the game. They managed only 22 shots on goal -- their lowest since a 21-shot game against the Seawolves in November. That game, which UND lost 3-2, was the last time senior Aaron Walski started in goal.
It's been all Brad Eidsness since then and the freshman was strong again in Alaska, stopping 25 of 26 Anchorage shots.
"It certainly wasn't one of our best games of the year," said Hextall, who had a goal and an assist in his first game back from a foot injury. "It was a pretty sloppy game. We had a lot of turnovers and made some bad decisions, which is pretty uncharacteristic of us lately.
"Luckily, we stuck with it and found a way to get two points."
The Sioux have continually found ways to win games in the second half of the season. They are 10-1-2 since the calendar turned over to 2009 and 14-3-2 since the start of December.
They knew going up to Alaska would be a challenge. UND came into the weekend with a 12-13 mark all-time in Anchorage -- a stark contrast from the 24-3-3 mark it holds over the Seawolves in Grand Forks.
Genoway's goal gave UND its first win in Sullivan Arena since Jan. 7, 2006. At 10:07 tonight, the Sioux will go for their first sweep in the Last Frontier since January 2003.
"We have to do whatever it takes to win a hockey game," UND coach Dave Hakstol said. "It's not going to be a free-wheeling game. Anchorage plays a tough, structured game. I expect it to be the same type of game (in the series finale). We have to take advantage of our opportunities, we have to win the special teams game and we have to grind it out, both offensively and defensively."
UND scored the only special teams goal of the night in the series opener at 12:03 of the first period.
Brad Miller, controlling the puck on the right point, faked a shot and threaded a pass to Hextall in the right circle. Hextall quickly fired a wrist shot before Christianson could move across the crease.
It was the ninth goal of the year for Hextall, who hadn't scored since his overtime tally against Bemidji State on Jan. 3.
The game stayed at 1-0 until there was just 8:43 left in the third.
Anchorage forward Kevin Clark left a pass for Mat Robinson on the right wing. Robinson fired a shot from the circle that Eidsness kicked out to the top of the crease. Josh Lunden crashed the net and buried his 11th goal of the season.
The Seawolves had a great chance a couple minutes later to take the lead, but Sean Wiles missed an open look from the slot with Eidsness out of position.
The game then went into overtime and UND scored on the first shift.
"It's a huge win," Hakstol said. "The guys went out and made plays and found a way to win a hockey game. It's a greasy road win, but at the end of the day, it's two points."
It was UND's first win of the season when scoring fewer than three goals.
Coming into the weekend, UND was 0-12-2 when being held under that mark. The Sioux are 18-1-1 when scoring three or more.
"At this time of year, it's all about getting two points," Hextall said, "especially with the tight race we're in."