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By Brad E. Schlossman / Forum Communications Co., Published March 03 2012

Eidsness shuts out Mavericks

GRAND FORKS - Patrick Mitchell set the bar pretty high for Senior Day performances Saturday at the University of North Dakota, hitting a game-winning buzzer-beater for the UND men’s basketball team in the afternoon.

Brad Eidsness did his best to match it at night.

Eidsness, a senior from Alberta, stopped 29 shots and earned his first shutout in two years, blanking Minnesota State-Mankato 3-0 in front of 12,029 in Ralph Engelstad Arena to complete a series sweep.

The icing on the cake was a stick salute in front of the fans and a video tribute to the team’s three seniors – Eidsness, defenseman Ben Blood and forward Mario Lamoureux.

“It’s pretty special,” said an emotional Eidsness. “It’s a good way to cap off a pretty good weekend and a good senior weekend. It’s something I think I will cherish for a long time. Senior Night is a celebration of four years here and certainly, I had a lot of great memories here.”

Rookies Mark MacMillan and Nick Mattson scored goals in the first and second period, while sophomore Brock Nelson won the Western Collegiate Hockey Association’s goal-scoring title with an empty-netter in the third.

“I thought the guys wanted to go out and get a good team win,” said UND coach Dave Hakstol, who awarded senior Blood his alternate captain’s ‘A’ back after stripping it earlier in the year for a handshake-line scuffle against Minnesota.

“Senior Night was a big part of it, probably the biggest part. That was one thing we talked about coming into the weekend. With everything else that was at stake, sometimes it’s best to simplify things and come back to the most important thing. And that’s playing hard for your teammates. Guys did that tonight.”

UND reached the 20-win mark for the eighth time under Hakstol, who is in his eighth year as coach. It helped the team move up one spot in the Pairwise Rankings to No. 13, while finishing off Western Collegiate Hockey Association play with a 16-11-1 mark.

The fourth-place Sioux (20-12-3) left Ralph Engelstad Arena not knowing whether Wisconsin or Bemidji State would be its first-round opponent next weekend. It probably doesn’t know who will play in goal for that series, either.

One night after a tremendous performance by Aaron Dell, Eidsness came back and slammed the door on the Mavericks for his fifth-career shutout. He made 11 saves in the first period, nine in the second and nine in the third, earning a pair of standing ovations for his saves during goal-mouth scrambles.

“Eids is an unbelievable teammate and a great goalie as well,” Mattson said. “We just really wanted to bear down and get it for Eids, so that was huge.”

MacMillan added: “Obviously it’s huge. It’s Senior Night and an emotional night for all three of those guys. Obviously, the team helped but I think a lot of that was Eids himself. He made a lot of big saves.”

The Sioux continued their dominance of Minnesota State, improving to 18-1-1 in the last 20 games against the Mavericks. They also improved to 16-5-2 since Thanksgiving.

MacMillan broke a 13-game goal drought at 11:01 in the first, when he skated in on a breakaway after a brilliant Derek Forbort outlet pass.

Mattson added to the lead, burying a point shot during a five-minute major power play at 6:32 of the second.

FIRST PERIOD: 1, UND, MacMillan (Forbort, Blood) 11:01.

SECOND PERIOD: 2, UND, Mattson (Kristo, Simpson) 6:32 (pp).

THIRD PERIOD: 3, UND, Nelson (Kristo) 18:31 (en).

SAVES: MSU, Lee 14-9-4–27. UND, Eidsness 11-9-9–29.