March 18, 2006
WCHA Finals
Red River Redux
Like last season, North Dakota on a roll heading into NCAAs

By Jess Myers

North Dakota 5,
St. Cloud State 3,
Team Goal Str
Time Assists
First Period
1-SC Konrad Reeder (11) PP
3:50 A. Brocklehurst, D. Carlisle
1-NDK Rastislav Spirko (10) EV
4:00 T.J. Oshie
2-NDK Jonathan Toews (19) EV
4:15 R. Duncan
3-NDK T.J. Oshie (23) PP
17:41 T. Chorney, B. Lee

Second Period

4-NDK Ryan Duncan (13) EV
4:58 J. Toews, B. Lee
5-NDK Ryan Duncan (14) PP
13:41 J. Toews, M. Smaby
2-SC Brock Hooton (7) PP
16:20 unassisted
Third Period
3-SC Billy Hengen (9) EV
5:07 J. Jensen
SC: Bobby Goepfert, 59:14, 24 saves, 5 GA
NDK: Jordan Parise, 37 saves, 3 GA
Penalties: SC 5/10; NDK 9/18
Power Plays: SC 2-7; NDK 2-3
Attendance: 19,282
All-Tournament Team
G: Jordan Parise, North Dakota (MVP)
D: Kyle Klubertanz, Wisconsin
D: Matt Smaby, North Dakota
F: Brock Hooton, St. Cloud State
F: T.J. Oshie, North Dakota
F: Ryan Potulny, Minnesota

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Here they come again.

A month ago, it didn’t look like North Dakota would be playing WCHA playoff games in their own building. In a bit of a turnaround, they’re heading back to Grand Forks with the Broadmoor Trophy and prepping to play NCAA tournament games at Ralph Engelstad Arena instead.

For anyone who watched the Sioux rise from obscurity and march to the NCAA title game last spring, this might be looking like a rerun.

“Last year they were totally different, and so physically dominant,” said St. Cloud State coach Bob Motzko. “They’re playing well now and their freshmen are carrying them. That’s what’s scary. They’re doing something right over there.”

Saturday night’s WCHA playoff title was the third won by North Dakota. It should be noted that the previous two Sioux teams to win the Broadmoor Trophy (in 1997 and 2000) went on to win the NCAA title a few weeks later. But Sioux coach Dave Hakstol isn’t one to look that far ahead.

“We’ve always taken things on a short-term basis and never looked down the road,” he said. “We talked tonight that we had a chance to win a championship. That’s what was at the end of the road for us tonight.”

And in their two wins in St. Paul, the Sioux scored nine goals without the benefit of their best offensive player, junior Drew Stafford, who has missed their last four games with a knee injury, but is expected back in the lineup for the NCAAs.

“Everyone collectively has had to step up their game,” said freshman Ryan Duncan about Stafford’s absence. Duncan had three goals over the weekend, including two in the title game. “Anytime a great player like Drew is out of the lineup, everyone steps up.”

As for the Huskies, who will likely see their season end just shy of an NCAA invite, there’s pain that they expect will be followed by pride.

“They’re going to really proud of this in a couple of days, but it stings tonight,” Motzko said after the 5-3 loss in the title game. “If we can use this as a stepping stone to move our program forward, this was an unbelievable season.”

Wisconsin 4, Minnesota 0
Team Goal Str
Time Assists
First Period
1-WIS Andrew Joudrey (8) EV
3:30 J. Dowell, R. MacMurchy

Second Period

2-WIS Jack Skille (12) EV
10:07 Ross Carlson
Third Period
3-WIS Ross Carlson (10) PP
3:02 K. Klubertanz, T. Gilbert
4-WIS Robbie Earl (21) EV
10:58 unassisted
WIS: Brian Elliott, 60:00, 26 saves, 0 GA
MN: Kellen Briggs, 60:00, 26 saves, 4 GA
Penalties: WIS 9/18; MN 7/14
Power Plays: WIS 1-4; MN 0-6
Power Plays: 16,134


Minnesota fans had reason for concern when their team took to the ice to face their arch-rivals just 17 hours after an emotional overtime loss. And rightly so, because there was clearly little gas left in the tanks of Minnesota throughout its match against Wisconsin.

“The reality of the game today was what happened last night,” said Minnesota coach Don Lucia after his team looked lifeless in a 4-0 loss. “To lose like we did last night, it’s human nature to have trouble getting up the next day. I saw a lot of blank stares on our bench today.”

On the other, better-rested bench, there was revenge on the minds of the Badgers, who saw the MacNaughton Cup slip from their grasp late in the regular season – a transfer of power was aided when Minnesota came to Madison in late January and won twice. Wisconsin won twice in Minneapolis in early December, meaning that Saturday was the rubber game between the two schools.

“We talked a lot about redemption being a great motivator,” Badgers coach Mike Eaves said. “Nobody was looking at this as just a third-place game. There was a lot of pride on the line.”

Wisconsin started fast, scoring in the opening four minutes of a game for the 11th time this season. By the time the final horn sounded, Brian Elliott had made 26 saves for his third shutout in the Badgers’ last six games and his school-record ninth shutout of his career. Asked if three blankings in six games meant he was back to form from the injury that sidelined him for a month, he didn’t have an answer.

“I don’t even know what back is,” he said. “You can’t describe your play before and after an injury, but I have confidence in my teammates that we can bring that kind of effort every night and win four more games.”

INCH's Three Stars of the Weekend

3. Ryan Duncan, North Dakota.
On a team filled with great freshmen, this one took a significant part of the scoring burden upon his shoulders, scoring one-third of NoDak’s goals in the tournament.

2. Brock Hooton, St. Cloud State.
He entered the tournament with just three goals for the season and more than doubled that number in St. Paul, with one on Thursday, two on Friday and one more on Saturday.

1. Jordan Parise, North Dakota
When the traffic got heavy in front of the Sioux net, which was often this weekend, the junior was up to the task and takes 22 wins into the NCAA tourney



• As an extra incentive to get more fans at the normally sparsely attended third-place game, WCHA officials had 5,000 color posters distributed to fans entering the rink. The posters features team photos from the five participating schools, with one notable faux pas. The team photo of the Fighting Sioux was labeled as being from “North Dakota State University.”

• Paul Allan, the longtime sports information director at Minnesota State Mankato, moderates the post-game press conferences at the Final Five. Between games on Saturday afternoon, one reporter joked that Allan would no longer be able to use the slogan “Backes to the Future” in Mavericks promotional materials. Allan’s reply: “No, but now we’ve got ‘Morin Enough.’” After Travis Morin led the Mavericks with 20 goals and 22 assists this season, that slogan might indeed sell a few tickets over the summer.

• After his team’s loss, Don Lucia talked about how familiar his team is with Ralph Engelstad Arena and how comfortable they’d be going to Grand Forks for a regional. Mike Eaves feels the same way about the Resch Center in Green Bay even if it’s not a regular stop on WCHA tours. “The kids are familiar with Green Bay,” he said. “We’ve got a bunch of kids who have played there, we’ll have our fans there and we played Michigan Tech there a few years ago, so we’ll be fine.

• Attendance records fell by the wayside again on Saturday. The Saturday afternoon crowd of 16,164 set a new standard for the tournament’s third place game, while Saturday evening’s sellout crowd of 19,282 gave the tournament a total attendance of 87,579, which was 5,000 more than the old mark, set in 2004.

• Members of the 1972 U.S. Olympic team with connections to WCHA schools were honored before the game, with team captain and former Minnesota Duluth star Keith “Huffer” Christiansen dropping the ceremonial first puck. The team, coached by ex-Gopher Murray Williamson, won a silver medal in Sapporo, Japan.

• Minnesota, which won the Final Five in 2003 and 2004, has now lost four consecutive Final Five games. The Gophers lost to Colorado College and North Dakota last year, and were beaten by St. Cloud State and Wisconsin this year.

• St. Cloud State was just the third team to win the Final Five play-in game to advance to the tournament’s championship. Northern Michigan did it in 1993, losing to Minnesota in the title game. And Michigan Tech advanced to the title game in 1996 in Milwaukee, with Minnesota winning that one, too.

• The bigger offensive zones on NHL ice sheets this season might have contributed to the additional offense in this year’s tournament. In the 2005 Final Five, there were 18 goals scored in all five games. This year there were 40, including 15 in one game.

• As if the premature announcement of Minnesota playing in the title game wasn’t bad enough, t-shirts and hats emblazoned with “North Dakota, 2006 WCHA Final Five Champions” were shown on the arena’s video screens with more than five minutes to play in a close title game.


Brian Elliott said that NCAA seedings never crossed his mind until the final horn blew on Saturday, giving him his sixth shutout of the season.

“I didn’t think about what a win would do until after the game,” he said. “But it would be awesome if we were the no. 1 seed.”

It looks likely that Wisconsin will be #1 overall and need to bring only one set of sweaters (the white ones) to Green Bay, while Minnesota will follow the Fighting Sioux bus back to Grand Forks where both teams will play in the regional there.

Then there's Denver. The two-time defending national champions appear to be on the outside looking in despite finishing in a second-place tie in the WCHA standings, hamstrung by a subpar record against non-conference opponents and Minnesota Duluth knocking the Pioneers out of the league playoffs prematurely last week. Doesn't say much about the weight a strong conference showing carries in the selection committee's eyes, does it?