March 25, 2006
West Regional | Regional Final
Powerful Sioux
North Dakota's power play ended Holy Cross' storybook weekend

By Jayson Hron

North Dakota 5, Holy Cross 2
Team Goal Str
Time Assists
First Period
1-ND Jonathan Toews (21) EV
1:18 R. Duncan, D. Stafford
2-ND Ryan Duncan (16) PP
15:16 J. Toews, M. Smaby

Second Period

1-HC Matt Werry (1) EV
3:07 J. Tselikis
3-ND Matt Smaby (4) PP
17:23 D. Stafford, J. Toews
Third Period
2-HC Blair Bartlett (13) PP
5:21 T. McGregor, D. Reinhardt
4-ND Travis Zajac (17) PP
6:48 B. Lee, T.J. Oshie
5-ND Matt Watkins (5) EV
9:03 C. Porter
Goaltending
HC: Tony Quesada, 60:00, 27 saves, 5 GA
ND: Jordan Parise, 59:51, 17 saves, 2 GA
Penalties: HC 5/10; ND 5/10
Power Plays: HC 1-5; ND 3-5
Attendance: 11,492
All-Regional Team
G: Jordan Parise, North Dakota
D: Matt Smaby, North Dakota
D: Jon Landry, Holy Cross
F: Tyler McGregor, Holy Cross
F: Ryan Duncan, North Dakota
F: Jonathan Toews, North Dakota (MVP)

GRAND FORKS, N.D.– North Dakota qualified for the program’s 16th trip to the Frozen Four with a 5-2 win over Holy Cross on Saturday, ending the Crusaders’ magical run at the 2006 NCAA West Regional. But just as it had one night earlier, Holy Cross proved to be a worthy opponent and a source of pride for the fledgling Atlantic Hockey conference.

“Before this regional, a lot of people were just talking about three teams and Holy Cross didn’t get a lot of ink,” said North Dakota head coach Dave Hakstol. “But we knew how good this team was, and they certainly showed it.”

The Crusaders entered Saturday’s final boasting the nation’s second-best penalty kill and, against Minnesota, the Crusaders’ special teams shined particularly bright, holding the Golden Gophers scoreless on seven power-play chances. Still, as INCH reported Friday, it was apparent that Holy Cross would need to avoid penalties if it hoped to defeat North Dakota and its power play, which is functioning at nearly 30 percent efficiency in the last 16 games. Ultimately the Crusaders could not do so, and the Fighting Sioux made them pay.

Already trailing after a wrap-around goal from freshman Jonathan Toews just 1:18 into the contest, Holy Cross watched its chances dim as Ryan Duncan, also a freshman, zipped a one-timer past Tony Quesada for North Dakota’s first power-play goal at 15:16 of the first period.

The Crusaders eventually answered back early in the second with a goal from Matt Werry – his first of the season – but North Dakota’s power play struck late in the stanza to re-establish the two-goal margin. Holy Cross pulled to within one early in the third period only to take another ill-advised penalty during which Fighting Sioux center Travis Zajac deflected a Brian Lee shot past Quesada to make the score 4-2. Four goals has emerged as a magic number of sorts for North Dakota, which is 21-0-0 when scoring four or more goals this season. The Fighting Sioux added a final even-strength tally to go with three power-play goals en route to Milwaukee.

“Goaltending and special teams are two of the greatest factors in winning or losing games this time of year,” said Hakstol. “And obviously the power play was key for us tonight.”

North Dakota’s star-studded special teams certainly impressed Holy Cross defenseman Jon Landry, who was extremely complimentary afterward.

“Any time you put five guys with that much talent on the ice, you know they’re going to have a pretty powerful power play,” he said.

The Crusaders were particularly impressed with Toews, who was named the regional’s Most Outstanding Player after a five-point outburst in two games.

INCH's Three Stars of the Weekend

3. T.J. Oshie, North Dakota
Just one goal and two assists, but he was brilliant. His physical play made him a constant factor.

2. Tony Quesada, Holy Cross
Edged for All-West Regional Team honors by the equally outstanding Jordan Parise, Quesada was integral to the Crusaders’ improbable victory over Minnesota. He wasn’t bad against the Fighting Sioux either.

1. Jonathan Toews, North Dakota
With two goals and three assists in two games, Toews was North Dakota’s top finisher and pace-setter.

SEEN AND HEARD AT THE RALPH

• There were some excellent homemade signs on display at the Ralph but few were better than the two-piece poster in the top row of Section 303. On one portion there was a fish with the word “Crappie” written below. On the other portion was the Golden Gophers’ logo with the word “Crappy” written below. The only sign that might have been better was a very simple, “Fighting Sioux: Milwaukee’s Best."

• No one knows what they are selling, but the Ralph’s trunk monkey commercials are pure video board gold. INCH particularly likes the trunk monkey serving as date chaperone while armed with dad’s combat shotgun.

• The Fighting Sioux might be happy to leave the Ralph, at least in the short term. Reports in Saturday’s Grand Forks Herald suggest that the Red River Valley could be in the path of floodwaters beginning next week. The tide isn’t supposed to cause catastrophic damage as in years past, but it could still make for a muddy and mushy exit from North Dakota for Dave Hakstol’s Frozen Four-bound toops.

• According to Holy Cross sports information, the Crusaders had not played before a crowd larger than 4,700 this season. They seemed to enjoy the West Region-record turnout of 11,153 during their win over Minnesota. They didn’t like them as much the next night, though, when a crowd of 11,492 broke the previous day's record.

• Holy Cross right wing Blair Bartlett (6-foot-2, 200 pounds) took a clean, blindside run at North Dakota defenseman Joe Finley (6-foot-7, 241 pounds) early in the second period of Saturday’s game. Finley never saw it coming. Bartlett did, but it didn’t help. The senior wing bounced off the freshman blueliner and tumbled to the ice as Finley looked on with amusement.

• Holy Cross sophomore left wing Matt Werry didn’t bring the numbers of a goal-scorer into Saturday’s West Region final, with zero goals in 20 games this season. But he looked like a sniper when he banked his first goal of the year off the pipe and in to cut North Dakota’s lead to 2-1 in the second period.

PLUSSES AND MINUSES

North Dakota’s Mike Prpich. The Fighting Sioux senior and alternate captain made a special point to individually stick salute the North Dakota partisans following what was his final appearance at the Ralph as a member of the Fighting Sioux.

The folks in Grand Forks. Their passion and excitement helps make college hockey in the West what it is.

Television timeouts. The games are great but the breaks are interminable.

Someone in the press lounge actually summarized Matt Carle’s entire season by stating that, “he lost to St. Cloud.” First of all, it was Minnesota Duluth. Secondly, the former Denver defenseman gave the Pioneers three points in three games against Tim Stapleton’s crew. INCH thinks most coaches would take a point per game from their top defenseman in the playoffs and feel pretty good about it. Thirdly, Carle piled up 53 points this season – from the blue line. No word if the press lounge pundit suffered the repeal of credentials.

WHAT'S NEXT

In qualifying for the Frozen Four, North Dakota secured a reunion with its long-standing rival on the national tournament scene, Boston College. The teams last met on the game’s biggest stage in 2001 when Krys Kolanos and the Eagles edged North Dakota in overtime of the national championship game. One year prior, it was Karl Goehring and the Fighting Sioux who claimed the national championship by toppling Boston College in the final. Both the Eagles and Fighting Sioux qualified for the Frozen Four in 1968, 1965, 1963 and 1959 as well, although it was known only as the national tournament back then. The teams didn’t meet in 1968 or 1959. They met in the semifinals in 1965 and 1963, splitting one victory apiece. In all, Boston College and North Dakota have met four times in the Frozen Four since 1948, with each team winning twice.