ST. CLOUD, Minn. - North Dakota senior forward Matt Frattin has established himself as a legitimate Hobey Baker Award candidate this season primarily by scoring highlight-reel goals at critical times.
The Edmonton, Alberta, native may have saved his most impressive and most important for tonight.
With the Fighting Sioux trailing 3-2 in the dying minutes and clinging to a one-point lead atop the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) standings, Frattin scored on a brilliant individual effort to tie the game with 3:31 remaining and give UND a 3-3 tie at St. Cloud State.
Frattin gained possession of the puck inside the SCSU blueline, wrestled control of it with his skates while powering through two defenders, and then flipped a shot past the glove hand of Husky goalie Mike Lee. The goal was Frattin's second of the game and WCHA-leading 24th of the season.
Nothing was settled in overtime, but Frattin's goal gave UND a valuable point in the standings, and ensured the Sioux would remain in first place heading into Saturday's series finale.
"That was a special individual effort," UND head coach Dave Hakstol said of Frattin's game-tying goal. "He wasn't going to be denied. We needed a play, and he's done that for us all year."
Frattin's heroics were needed after the host Huskies stormed back from a 2-0 deficit with three straight goals. SCSU sophomore David Eddy got his team on the board with a rebound goal at 12:33 of the second period to cut the lead in half heading into the third period.
The Huskies found the equalizer only 2:46 into the final frame on a fortunate SCSU bounce. Cam Reid fired a shot wide from the slot that caromed off the end boards and back into goal mouth area, where Drew LeBlanc easily tapped it past Sioux netminder Aaron Dell (So., Airdrie, Alberta). Then Ben Hanowski gave the Huskies the lead with a power-play tally midway through the third.
"I thought we let our foot off the gas a little bit and allowed them to get going," said Hakstol. "They did a great job coming back and tying the game up. They picked up the pace of the game. Once they went ahead, I thought we matched that pace and tied it up."
The tie allowed UND to remain unbeaten this season when leading after two periods (15-0-2). However, junior Brett Hextall (Manhattan Beach, Calif.), who scored UND's first goal, said the Sioux were disappointed to come away without a victory.
"Against a highly skilled, quick team like that, it's hard to play when you're back on your heels. I think we got back on our heels a little bit. When we get up, we need to stay on them."
UND outshot the Huskies 34-21, but SCSU held a 10-4 edge in the third period.
"I didn't think we had everybody in the lineup going real well," said Hakstol. "The flip side and the positive is the character that our guys showed on the road to tie it up and give ourselves a chance to win."
The Sioux went 0-for-5 on the power-play, while SCSU went 1-for-3.
Saturday's series finale begins at 7:07 p.m. Central.
Notes: Frattin has four goals and three assists in his last four games. He has scored 35 goals in 45 games dating back to last Feb. 13 at SCSU ... UND's "Pony Express" line of Frattin, Evan Trupp and Brad Malone has 24 points in UND's last five games against the Huskies ... Jason Gregoire assisted on Hextall's goal to extend his point streak to seven games, matching his career long.
- Go Sioux -