Monday, October 31, 2011

Week 4 Recap (Part 1): Sioux Split

Following their first road trip of the season North Dakota returned home to Engelstad Arena for a weekend pair with St. Cloud State, and the Sioux wound up with a split as SCSU rode a red-hot goaltender to a 4-0 victory Friday night and North Dakota produced its best defensive performance of the season to earn a 3-1 win on Saturday.
  • Friday night saw North Dakota throw everything including the kitchen sink at Husky freshman goaltender Ryan Faragher, but he turned away each of the 44 shots he faced in place of the injured Mike Lee. It was the second consecutive game that saw UND offensively dominate yet come away without a conference point. As I was walking away from the Kohl Center following the Saturday night loss to Wisconsin I commented that I'd take that type of offensive performance every game because the Sioux would win 90% of those games. Apparently the hockey gods decided to test (and quickly debunk) my theory the very next game.
  • The Sioux outshot SCSU 39-16 through two periods, and though SCSU led 1-0 it certainly felt like the second goal of the game was going to be the dagger. And it was. When the Huskies scored less than three minutes into the third, the arena and everything in it not draped in red & black seemed to instantly deflate. The building was ready to erupt with a NoDak goal, but that energy was sapped when they fell behind 2-0.
  • As alluded to earlier, Husky goaltender Ryan Faragher was sensational Friday night. Saturday at Wisconsin Joel Rumpel played a great game that was aided quite a bit by his defense. Faragher's performance, on the other hand, was a case where a goaltender virtually stole a game all on his own as SCSU saddled him with a lot of shorthanded minutes and he responded beautifully.
  • Defensive responsibility was much improved this weekend. The forwards did a much better job at getting back defensively and occupying SCSU in transition. One play that really comes to mind was an odd-man chance in the second period of Saturday's game. Mike Parks was leading the Sioux rush, and when SCSU was able to successfully defend and turn the play up-ice, Parks (who ended up behind the net) was the first forward back and helped break up a Husky chance.
  • As it turns out, a doubtful Rocco Grimaldi is pretty dang good. He ended up with one assist on the weekend, and he's one of the rare, electric players that leaves you holding your breath whenever he possesses the puck. When he's fully healthy, watch out.
  • Saturday night, there were a few cases where the team seemed to have some trouble passing out of the defensive zone, and the third line (MacMillan-Grimaldi-Gleason) got stuck on a couple extended shifts as a result. 
  • The goaltending of Aaron Dell was solid and he's showing signs of returning to his sophomore form. However, I sit on the end that the visitors attack twice and at times it seemed as though he might've been struggling with tracking the puck.
  • Look for Grimaldi to start seeing some time on the penalty kill as he works his way back into full health and game shape. He has a solid reputation of being a forechecking nuisance/point hound on the PK.
  • I really liked the second line on Saturday night. Lamoureux-Rowney-Rodwell went up against the LeBlanc line much of the night and did a great job defensively.
The weekly recap of former Sioux in the pros and Sioux recruits, along with a few other items, will be on the docket for tomorrow. The steady stream of trick-or-treaters severely cut into the writing time tonight.  

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