North Dakota bounces Niagara, gains Frozen Four

Fighting Sioux to play Michigan-Maine winner

March 26, 2000|By BOSTON GLOBE

MINNEAPOLIS - The University of North Dakota, after a couple of seasons of frustrating finishes, is back in the Frozen Four.

The Fighting Sioux upended Niagara, 4-1, last night to become the first team booked for Providence, R.I. North Dakota (29-8-5) will take on the winner of today's Michigan-Maine game in an April 6 semifinal.

"It's certainly going to be good to get back to the Final Four after three years of not getting there," said North Dakota coach Dean Blais.

The Purple Eagles (30-8-4), in the program's fourth year, gave North Dakota all it could handle. The Fighting Sioux jumped on top, 2-0, in the first period on goals by Ryan Bada at 3: 11 and Mike Commodore with 54 seconds left. But Niagara goalie Greg Gardner made 17 saves in the middle period and John Heffernan scored on the power play at 12: 13.

"The second period was a fun one to coach and watch," said Niagara coach Blaise MacDonald. "But then we gave up the goal early in the third, and I think that broke our spirit a little."

The spirit-breaking goal came at 1: 05 off the stick of Lee Goren, converting a nice pass from Jeff Panzer.

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