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UND hands Dean Blais his worst loss in 18 years of coaching college hockey

OMAHA, Neb. -- When Dean Blais found out that Brock Boeser and Tyson Jost were playing for North Dakota on Friday night, he didn't panic. "I thought it could work the other way," the Omaha coach said. It didn't. Boeser scored two goals in his fir...

UNO goalkeeper Kris Oldham (33), blocks a puck shot by North Dakota's Ludvig Hoff (27), in the second period at Baxter Arena on Friday, Jan. 6, 2017, in Omaha, Neb. MEGAN FARMER/THE WORLD-HERALD
UNO goalkeeper Kris Oldham (33), blocks a puck shot by North Dakota's Ludvig Hoff (27), in the second period at Baxter Arena on Friday, Jan. 6, 2017, in Omaha, Neb. MEGAN FARMER/OMAHA (NEB.) WORLD-HERALD

OMAHA, Neb. - When Dean Blais found out that Brock Boeser and Tyson Jost were playing for North Dakota on Friday night, he didn't panic.

"I thought it could work the other way," the Omaha coach said.

It didn't.

Boeser scored two goals in his first game in almost two months, Jost had more points (goal, assist) than he had hours of sleep the night before and North Dakota handed Blais his most lopsided defeat in 18 years of coaching college hockey - a 9-1 thrashing in front of a sold-out crowd in Baxter Arena.

UND led 5-0 after the first period and 7-0 after two. By the time the final buzzer mercifully sounded, UND handed Omaha its worst home loss in program history.

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"Nothing was good," Blais said. "Our goaltending wasn't good. The defensemen weren't good. The forwards had (26) shots, but they weren't good opportunities.

"Guys are down in the dressing room right now. They've got to iron it out. They've got to figure out what's going on. I'm not sure we had any more than three or four guys compete at the level we need to compete at. How does that happen? It can't happen in this league."

UND (11-6-3 overall, 4-4-1 National Collegiate Hockey Conference) had superlatives all across the lineup.

Seventeen of the 18 skaters on the ice had points. The only exception was defenseman Hayden Shaw, who was a team-best plus-3.

Boeser, who had minor wrist surgery in December and hadn't played since Nov. 19, scored on his second shift of the game and added another one before the end of the first period.

"It definitely felt great to get back with the guys," Boeser said. "I really didn't know if I was going to play tonight. They let me play and I definitely had a fun time with the guys."

Jost, who woke up in Montreal on Friday morning after 30 minutes of sleep following the World Junior gold medal game, scored midway through the first and added an assist. Because of flight problems, Jost didn't even get to Omaha until about 3:30 p.m. Friday.

After talking to him at the team hotel, Berry determined that Jost could play.

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Gage Ausmus, who hadn't scored since March 28, 2014 against the same Omaha team - a 91-game span - buried a goal in the first period.

"It's a new feeling," Ausmus said of scoring. "It's definitely a good one. I'm just happy with our team's play tonight. Obviously, (Omaha) had an off night, but we brought it for a full 60 minutes. We'll look to continue that tomorrow."

Johnny Simonson, who hadn't scored this season, got one in the third.

Grand Forks Central's Casey Johnson notched his first-career point on an assist in the third.

And Shane Gersich, Joel Janatuinen, Dixon Bowen and Zach Yon also got on the scoreboard with goals Friday night in Omaha.

"I'm extremely proud, not only of the two guys who came back the lineup, but the whole group," said UND coach Brad Berry, whose team scored nine goals for the first time since a 9-2 rout of Miami on Valentine's Day 2014. "We came off a game at Union, where we had a couple guys out of the lineup, and a lot of guys stepped forward. We infused two guys into our lineup and it seemed to give us a little bump."

UND, which has outscored Omaha 17-4 in three games in the 2-year-old Baxter Arena, will go for the series sweep at 7:07 tonight.

Berry said he will assess Jost and Boeser on Saturday morning to determine their availability, but UND's lopsided win Friday probably helped. Berry was able to rest Jost and Boeser for most of the third period.

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Berry said he liked his team's play on Friday, but wants to see the Fighting Hawks follow it up in the series finale as they go for their first three-game winning streak since October.

"We came into the game and wanted to have an attack mentality and make sure we had the puck going north," Berry said. "We had the puck in their end there and were fortunate enough to get a couple of goals. The big thing is now knowing that game is over. Tomorrow it starts 0-0 again. The biggest thing in the first half was our inconsistency. In order to have success, you need to keep building."

And for Blais, another round is a good thing.

"After that third goal, it was like, 'Jeez, it's not going good,'" Blais said. "We just didn't compete like we have to compete to win in this league."

Schlossman has covered college hockey for the Grand Forks Herald since 2005. He has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the top beat writer for the Herald's circulation division four times and the North Dakota sportswriter of the year once. He resides in Grand Forks. Reach him at bschlossman@gfherald.com.
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