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Brad E. Schlossman / Forum Communications Co., Published November 26 2009

Offense in a lull during UND hockey games

GRAND FORKS, N.D. – It has been 158 minutes, 37 seconds since there’s been an even-strength goal in a University of North Dakota men’s hockey game.

That stretch spans more than two-and-a-half games and goes back to a Brad Malone goal early in the second period Nov. 14 against St. Cloud State.

Don’t expect them to start flowing this weekend when Bemidji State, Miami of Ohio and Ohio State come to Ralph Engelstad Arena for the Subway Holiday Classic.

Bemidji State, Miami and UND are the three stingiest teams in the country. The Beavers rank first nationally, allowing just 1.67 goals per game.

Miami gives up 1.71 per game and UND 1.75 per game.

All three of those teams have veteran defensive corps and standout goaltenders.

Bemidji State sophomore Dan Bakala ranks third nationally with a .938 save percentage. Miami’s Cody Reichard is fourth with a .936. UND’s Brad Eidsness, who hasn’t allowed an even-strength goal in eight periods, ranks 15th with .929.

“We have four quality teams here,” UND coach Dave Hakstol said. “It’s easy to bill this as three of the top six (nationally), but don’t forget Ohio State in that mix. They are a tournament team from last year and a young team. When they’ve played at the top of their game this year, they’ve been as good as anybody. They have a lot of talent in their lineup.

“The rest of the field speaks for itself. It’s a nice showcase for college hockey and it should be some fun games.”

The Sioux scored just two goals last weekend in Denver – both on the power play – and they’ve been held to one even-strength goal since losing captain Chay Genoway to an injury four games ago.

That’s been the main reason why the Sioux have dropped the last three games by one goal.

“We realize that we’re not indestructible,” alternate captain Darcy Zajac said. “We have to come out, perform and play hard. Every team in the country is good enough to win on any given night. We need to be ready to play any night. Our preparation has to improve.”

Hakstol said that the team has practiced well this week.

“We’re not happy that we’ve lost three games in a row,” said Hakstol, whose team is 7-4-1. “That doesn’t sit well with anybody around here.

“In each one of those losses, we didn’t give ourselves the best chance to win. In all three cases, the reasons were a little different. Taking three games on the chin like we did has a way of really sharpening your focus. If there was any lack of focus or preparation in the previous couple of weeks, there’s certainly no lack of either this week. Hopefully that will put us back on track.”

Brad Schlossman is a writer for the Grand Forks Herald, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.