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Brad E. Schlossman / Forum Communications Co., Published February 18 2012

Goalies shine as Sioux men's hockey team settles for tie

GRAND FORKS – In the postgame handshake line, Michigan Tech goalie Josh Robinson told Brad Eidsness: “That was fun.”

Perhaps the goaltenders were the only ones who could feel that way after an ugly 1-1 tie in which neither goal was shot into the net.

UND’s Corban Knight threw a pass off of a defenseman’s skate and in the net at 6 minutes, 4 seconds of the third period; Michigan Tech’s Jordan Baker scored when a rebound went off his chest and in just 3:28 later, and that’s the way Saturday night’s game ended in Ralph Engelstad Arena.

On the bright side, UND was able to gain a point and stay three points ahead of Tech in the battle for home-ice advantage in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association playoffs. The Sioux moved to 17-11-3 overall and 13-10-1 in league play.

On the down side, UND dropped a spot in the Pairwise Rankings to No. 14 and failed to beat the Huskies for the first time in 13 meetings.

“It’s a good point for us at the end of the day,” UND coach Dave Hakstol said. “Both teams worked real hard. Obviously, we were not at our best, but we emptied the tank tonight. We were not nearly as sharp to start the game as we would have liked to have been, but as the game wore on, we got a little better.

“The third was a real battle. Both teams gave everything they had and it came down to a 1-1 tie. We came in wanting four points at home, but it’s a point in the standings and we’ll move forward.”

The stars of the game were Robinson and Eidsness – and their posts and crossbars.

Robinson stopped 31 shots and was helped out by a post and a crossbar hit by red-hot forward Carter Rowney.

Eidsness stopped 23 shots and had the help of his posts, which the Huskies hit four times.

“I’d like to think that I didn’t give them anything else to shoot at,” Eidsness said, laughing. “Sometimes the game goes that way. Maybe I had a horseshoe stuck on my rear end.”

Eidsness started back-to-back games for the first time in nearly two full years – since the 2010 playoffs – with starting goalie Aaron Dell out with an undisclosed injury. The senior and two-time all-conference netminder stopped 42 of 45 shots on the weekend and improved his goals-against average to 1.92 and his save percentage to .926.

“The goalies had help, but boy both were tremendous all weekend,” Hakstol said. “They battled tooth and nail last night and tonight. Eids did a great job on back-to-back nights.”

Eidsness said: “Sometimes, goalie duels are fun. We’re both seniors. We’ve played each other a lot in our careers. Sometimes, a tie isn’t always what you want, but it’s fun to go against a guy who is playing well and to answer that.

“I feel pretty good. It’s been a long road back from last year, but I’ve cleared up some things. There were still some hairy moments.”

FIRST PERIOD: No scoring.

SECOND PERIOD: No scoring.

THIRD PERIOD: 1, UND, Knight (Kristo, Mattson), 6:04, (pp). 2, MT, Baker (Olson), 9:32, (sh).

OVERTIME: No scoring.

SAVES: MT, Robinson 9-6-13-3 31. UND, Eidsness 8-6-7-2 21.

Schlossman writes for the Grand Forks Herald