EIDSNESS STOPS 29 SHOTS AS NORTH DAKOTA SHUTS OUT MINNESOTA STATE, 3-0
Senior goaltender Brad Eidsness earns fifth career shutout with 29 saves for North Dakota
GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- UND senior goalie Brad Eidsness (Chestermere, Alberta) recorded his fifth career shutout tonight in a 29-save blanking of Minnesota State, Mankato.
That leaves him 10 shy of the school career shutout record held by Karl Goehring, but none of that matters today to Eidsness and the Fighting Sioux.
UND's 3-0 victory over the Mavericks in front of 12,029 fans at Ralph Engelstad Arena completed a series sweep for the Sioux, who won 4-2 Friday night.
More importantly, it sent them into next weekend's first round of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) playoffs on a high note, now 16-5-2 in the last 23 games and riding a typical hot Sioux streak heading into the playoffs.
The Sioux (20-12-3 overall, 16-11-1 WCHA) recorded 20 wins for the eighth time in head coach Dave Hakstol's eight years behind the bench, another nobable achievement.
The shutout was the first for Eidsness since March 12, 2010, when he blanked Minnesota Duluth in the WCHA Final Five quarterfinals. The five career shutouts tie him for fifth on UND's career shutout list with Aaron Schweitzer, Tom Yurkovich and Gerald "Spike'' Schultz.
On Senior Night, it was a big moment for Eidsness and his fellow seniors Ben Blood (Plymouth, Minn.) and Mario Lamoureux (Grand Forks), who celebrated the final regular-season weekend at home for UND's three seniors with a sweep capped by a stick salute to the fans.
Freshman left wing Mark MacMillan (Penticton, B.C.) and freshman defenseman Nick Mattson (Chanhassen, Minn.) scored UND's first two goals before junior wing Brock Nelson (Warroad, Minn.) wrapped it up with an empty-net goal with 89 seconds remaining. Nelson's goal was his 23rd, tops on the team, while MacMillan scored his fifth and Mattson his sixth.
Nelson's goal was his league-leading 20th in WCHA play, and enabled him to tie Minnesota's Scott Bjugstad for the overall goal-scoring lead with 23.
There was much happiness as teammates helped Eidsness post his shutout.
"Eids is an unbelivable teammate, and he's a great goalie as well,'' Mattson said. "Once we got that third one (goal), we just really wanted to bear down and get it for Eids.''
MacMillan scored at 11:01 of the first period when defenseman Derek Forbort (Duluth, Minn.) sent him on a breakaway with a two-zone pass on his tape just outside the Mankato blue line.
MacMillan bured his wrister stick side on Mankato goalie Austin Lee, his first goal in 14 games.
Mattson scored on the tail end of a 5-minute major called on Mankato's Eli Zuck for checking from behind. With just under a minute left in the major penalty, Mattson buried a slapshot glove side on Lee from the middle point.
It was just the second time in 10 tries this season UND has scored when it had a 5-minute major to work with on the power play.
Eidsness survived several major scrambles around the crease in each period and made at least nine saves in every period. Eight of his 29 saves came on Mankato's four power plays as the Mavericks were 0-for-4 compared to 1-for-7 for the Sioux.
"I thought we played a hard, simple game,'' Mattson said. "We knew Pairwise, that was a must-win game. So we're pretty pumped about it.'"
"It was pretty special,'' Eidsness said of posting a shutout on Senior Night. "It's a good way to cap off a pretty good weekend and a good Senior Weekend. It's something you look at, and I think I'll cherish it for a long time.''
Eidsness choked up a bit talking about his last regular-season game in a Sioux jersey. "Senior Night is kind of a celebration of your four years here. Certainly had a lot of great memories here.''
Eidsness and junior Aaron Dell (Airdrie, Alberta) have both been playing exceptional in goal, creating a decision for Hakstol to make in goal once the playoffs start.
"Our hockey team is confident with whichever guy is in the net,'' Dell said. "Going into the playoffs, I think that's a good way to be going.''
Hakstol had an easy answer for his reaction to the goaltending of Eidsness tonight. "Tremendous,'' Hakstol said. "There were times during the game when he didn't have a lot of work, and there were times when there some pretty frantic moments around him. He did a great job. He had to work hard, battle hard, for the shutout.''
UND will play either Wisconsin or Bemidji State in the first round of the best-of-three playoffs starting Friday in Grand Forks. A BSU win in the late game in Anchorage last night would bring the Beavers to Grand Forks. A BSU tie or loss would send Wisconsin to Grand Forks.
SIOUX NOTES: A broken pane of glass behind the Sioux net caused by a hockey puck in warmups forced the start of the game to be delayed 20 minutes . . . Eidsness said none of his teammate would confess to shooting the puck that caused the damage . . . Hakstol said a mistake made in the materials used in manufacturing pucks this season caused the puck to be harder and is causing damage to glass at rinks around the country. UND had to replace a broken pane mid-week as well. . . UND had a 41-23 edge in faceoff wins, led by Carter Rowney (12-5), the junior center from Sexsmith, Alberta.
Virg Foss covered UND hockey for 35 seasons for the Grand Forks Herald until his retirement. He now reports on UND home games exclusively for fightingsioux.com.