GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- Alaska Anchorage's brand of defensive hockey was no match tonight for two ingredients the UND Fighting Sioux threw at the Seawolves -- speed and snipers.
The quicker Sioux used their speed to breeze by defenders for a few goals and set up other goals with precision goal-mouth deflections in a 6-1 Western Collegiate Hockey Association victory over the visiting Seawolves.
A crowd of 11,927 -- fifth largest in Ralph Engelstad Arena history -- enjoyed the crisp play of the Sioux, who showed no rust from a week layoff.
Goals by seniors Matt Frattin (Edmonton, Alberta) and Jake Marto (Grand Forks, N.D.) 17 seconds apart early in the first period staked the Sioux to a quick 2-0 lead and rattled the defensive game plan of the Seawolves.
Frattin sniped his 22nd of the season off a faceoff at 5:54 of the first period to get the Sioux rolling. Frattin, the WCHA's leading goal scorer, then made a perfect goal-mouth pass to defenseman Marto on an outmanned rush 17 seconds later to make it 2-0.
A tip-in goal by senior Mario Lamoureux midway through the period pushed the lead to 3-0 and gave the Grand Forks native his first goal in 11 games.
Goals by Jason Gregoire (Jr., Winnipeg, Manitoba), Corban Knight (So., High River, Alberta) and Evan Trupp (Sr., Anchorage, Alberta) in the second and third periods kept the Sioux safely in front. There was no repeat of the season opener, when the Sioux saw a 5-1 lead against UAA in Anchorage evolve into a 5-5 tie.
Frattin led the Sioux with a three-point game, assisting on two goals to earn No. 1 star rating from the media.
The quick scoring start for the Sioux set the tone. It was also unusual for the Sioux, who have scored less goals in the first period (24) than any other this season.
"It was definitely our goal to come out fast and hard in the first five minutes," Frattin said, "and try to get the first one and set them off their strategy."
It worked to perfection. The Sioux, showing the fresh legs from the layoff, blazed by UAA defensemen quite regularly to set up goals or scoring chances. UND outshot the Seawolves 35-22, 10 over the average shots allowed by the stingy Seawolves this season.
"We just kind of ran away with it after that," Frattin said of UND's early outburst.
The victory was UND's 20th of the season (20-8-2) and moved them into second place in the WCHA, one point behind Denver University with seven games for most league teams.
The Sioux, playing without injured captain Chay Genoway and without forward Danny Kristo, got strong play from everyone in the lineup.
Gregoire, Trupp, Marto and rookie defenseman Derek Forbort (Duluth, Minn.) had two-point games with Trupp being named No. 2 star and Forbort capturing third star.
It was one of the better games of late for Forbort, who missed four games earlier in the season with mono. He assisted on the goals by Lamoureux and Gregoire.
"The opportunities were there, so I just hopped up in the play and took them," Forbort said of his offensive contributions. It was the fourth multi-point game of the season for Forbort, but the first since Nov. 19.
Forbort seems to have settled into his game against since being paired defensively with Ben Blood (Jr., Plymouth, Minn.) recently. "Chemistry is tough thing to figure out," Hakstol said. "Sometimes it's just there. It seems to be there between those two."
The edge in speed for the Sioux against the bigger Seawolves showed up early. "I think it (speed) is a big part of our game, regardless who we're playing," UND coach Dave Hakstol said. "We did a good job of that tonight, coming up ice with some speed."
The two early goals took some of the pressure off of fighting through UAA's ability to clog the neutral zone. "It was important to get off to a good start and get a lead," Hakstol said. "Most importantly, once we had it, we were able to build it. We kept pushing the envelope."
Almost overlooked in the six-goal game against a defensive team was the sound play of Sioux goalie Aaron Dell (So., Airdrie, Alberta). Dell finished with 21 saves. He was looking at his fifth shutout of the season until a defensive misplay led to a goal by Matt Bailey early in the third period.
With the six goals by the Sioux, their second highest one-game total this season, Dell's stout play could be overshadowed.
"It can get overlooked,'' Hakstol said of Dell's play. "It won't get overlooked in our lockerroom. He had a hand in this, just like everyone else in the lineup. He did his job."
SIOUX NOTES: UND had a 29-21 edge in faceoffs, led by Knight (9-1) and Brad Malone (11-7) . . . Frattin led the Sioux in shots on goal with five, followed by Knight, Gregoire and Trupp with four each . . . Freshman Taylor Dickin from Winnipeg made his college debut for UND and had two shots on goal ... Marto is a +7 over his last two games and a +9 over his last four.
Virg Foss, who covered Fighting Sioux hockey for 35 years for the Grand Forks Herald until his retirement, now reports on UND home games exclusively for fightingsioux.com. Contact him at email@example.com or at (701) 772-9272