GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- How special is this senior class of hockey players at UND?
That they wrapped up their second MacNaughton Cup Sunday in their four years as Fighting Sioux players speaks for itself, considering it's two of the league-record 15 ever won by the school.
Senior defenseman Jake Marto led the way Sunday with a goal and two assists in a 5-1 victory over Bemidji State that clinched no worse than a share of the silver trophy.
All the Sioux (24-8-3) need is one win or a tie in a two-game series at last-place Michigan Tech next weekend to take sole possession of the highly-prized trophy.
On a weekend where the seniors were honored on the ice before the game and by a video tribute after the game, their contributions with the game in progress loomed even bigger.
The top line of seniors Evan Trupp (one goal), Brad Malone (goal, assist) and Matt Frattin (goal, assist) had a huge game in setting the pace. Seniors Brent Davidson scored a goal in Saturday's 5-2 win over the Beavers and senior Derrick LaPoint had two assists, so every senior had at least one point on his final regular season home weekend.
The lone exception to that would be senior captain Chay Genoway, sidelined by a lower body injury. There's a chance the all-WCHA defenseman could return to the lineup by the playoffs in two weeks. He's missed the last seven games.
The Sioux overpowered BSU with three power-play goals for the second straight game. After spotting BSU a 1-0 lead on Jordan George's power-play goal that skipped in off Sioux defenseman Derek Forbort (Fr., Duluth, Minn.), the Sioux took command in a dominating second period.
Malone tied it at 1-1 on a power play at 3:43 when Frattin's shot from outside the faceoff circles hit Malone's glove and went in for Malone's 10th goal of the season. The assist credited to Frattin was his 100th career point, giving him membership in UND's Century Club.
Marto got the game-winning goal with a great individual effort at 11:14. He flipped a backhand from in tight by BSU goalie Dan Bakala's glove hand and just under the crossbar for his sixth goal of the year.
Frattin came out of the penalty box to score on a breakaway at 15:59, deking Bakala and beating him 5-hole for his 27th goal of the season, two off the national lead.
Junior Jason Gregoire (Winnipeg, Manitoba) buried a perfect cross-ice feed from Corban Knight (So., High River, Alberta) at 17:47 of the period to close out a sensational period.
Trupp added a power-play goal on a goal-mouth feed from Malone in the third period to close the scoring.
UND coach Dave Hakstol appreciated the effort and leadership by his seniors.
"It's a good sign when not only are your seniors doing a good job and showing good leadership," Hakstol said, "they are producing on the ice. Within that class, there's different personalities and different abilities. I think the guys are are contributing within their own role. That's the most important thing, moreso than just the points."
The series completed a 4-0 season sweep by the Sioux over the Beavers, who were outscored 20-7 in the four losses. UND is 21-1-1 all-time against BSU and unbeaten in last 21 meetings (20-0-1).
"That's just a heckuva hockey team," BSU coach Tom Serratore said.
The Sioux knew they could clinch at least a share of the MacNaughton Cup by beating BSU twice, but didn't make a big deal out of it. Even after clinching it Sunday, there was no on-ice celebration.
The trophy itself was not in Grand Forks to be presented, something that will likely happen during the WCHA playoffs in two weeks against Michigan Tech.
"We were aware if it (the chance to win the MacNaughton Cup)," said Knight, who assisted on three goals.
"We didn't want to think about it too much," Knight said. "We had to focus on winning two games this weekend. Fortunately, we were able to lock up a share of the MacNaughton Cup. It wasn't one of those things we that we driving for."
The three-point game was Marto's second of the season.
"It's the kind of stuff you dream about," Marto said of scoring a goal in his final regular-season game before his hometown crowd.
All told, the Sioux seniors finished Sunday with four goals and four assists. "Senior class is going out with a bang tonight," said Marto, who had his second three-point game of the season.
Winning the Cup as a senior was meaningful to Marto. "It's huge," he said. "Winning a couple years ago and doing it again in such a tough league. It's exciting, and an honor to win it again."
UND outshot the Beavers 29-16 and was 3-5 on the power play while holding BSU to 1-4 to delight a sellout crowd of 11,775 at Ralph Engelstad Arena.
"The tipped goal by Malone seemed to really ignite us," Hakstol said. "We played a real good 40 minutes."
SIOUX NOTES: Gregoire and Frattin led the Sioux with four shots on goal . . . Gregoire extended his point streak to 10 games, while Frattin extended his point streak to seven games...Marto was named No. 1 star by the media, followed by Frattin and Knight . . . Sophomore Aaron Dell, who finished with 15 saves, drew an assist on Marto's goal . . . UND had a whopping 31-13 edge in faceoff wins, led by Malone (11-4), Mario Lamoureux (7-2) and Brock Nelson (6-0).
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.