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Brad E. Schlossman, Published October 21 2012

Short-handed UND falls to Alaska Fairbanks

Editor’s note: North Dakota’s game against Alaska Fairbanks on Saturday was still in progress when Sunday’s edition of The Forum went to press.

FAIRBANKS, Alaska – The Brice Alaska Goal Rush title still isn’t leaving this state.

The University of Alaska (Fairbanks) broke a tie early in the third period and rode a strong performance by goaltender Steve Thompson, the tournament MVP, to knock off North Dakota 2-1 in the event’s title game on Saturday night in the Carlson Center.

Chad Gehon tallied the game-winner for the 2-1-1 Nanooks, who piled on their goaltender after winning their own tournament for the third time in its five-year history. Alaska Anchorage won the other two.

Playing a second-consecutive night with a depleted lineup due to suspensions and injuries – UND dressed only 16 skaters and played just three forward lines – the team struggled to generate the offense it did Friday in a five-goal, season-opening win over Anchorage.

“Offensively, when you look at it, we had close to 70 shot attempts,” UND coach Dave Hakstol said. “I thought UAF did a real good job blocking shots. We missed the net with a few as well. I thought the biggest factor there was they did a good job getting in lanes and blocking shots. I thought at different times of the game we were, sporadically, a half step slow. It was just a close, hard-fought game. They scored the game-winner and they did a good job holding that lead.”

UND’s lone goal came from redshirt freshman Colten St. Clair, who staked his team to a 1-0 lead late in the first period with a snap shot from the right circle.

But the Nanooks quickly equalized it on a power-play goal in the first minute of the second period, then came out strong in the third.

Alaska held the puck in the offensive zone for nearly all of the opening three minutes of the final frame and eventually got a goal when Gehon corralled a pass on the inside of the right circle and snapped it stick side on UND goalie Clarke Saunders (30 saves).

“You knew they were going to come out and have that push,” Hakstol said. “They had a little bit more energy than we did in that first five minutes. Out of that, they got the game-winner. After that, we had our spurts where we were able to push and create our opportunities, but not quite enough to get it done.”

Defenseman Joe Gleason added: “They came out flying. You’ve got to give them credit. They came to play and they came to win their tournament. I’m happy with the effort of our team. But when it comes down to it, we didn’t have the execution.”

Out of the lineup for UND on Saturday night was Danny Kristo, Connor Gaarder, Stephane Pattyn, Andrew Panzarella, Dan Senkbeil and Michael Parks, who was the lone injured player. The rest were serving suspensions.

UND regained the services of Andrew MacWilliam, Corban Knight, Carter Rowney and Brendan O’Donnell, who had to sit out the opener with suspensions.

UND pulled Saunders for an extra attacker and had a 6-on-4 chance with a power play in the final 58 seconds, but couldn’t get the tying goal.

FIRST PERIOD: 1, UND, St. Clair (Grimaldi, MacWilliam), 17:49.

SECOND PERIOD: 2, UAF, Atkinson (Morley, Campbell), 0:54 (pp).

THIRD PERIOD: 3, UAF, Gehon, (Parayko, Huysmans), 3:02.

SAVES: UND, Saunders 8-10-12–30. UAF, Thompson 10-7-8–25.

Schlossman writes for the Grand Forks Herald