Oshie's hat trick leads North Dakota past Michigan

DENVER -- North Dakota's Chris Porter wore the green hard hat with pride after the game.

"It only gets awarded after a win," Porter said of the helmet that's given to the player who does all the little things for the team. "So, I'm happy to be wearing it."

The Fighting Sioux knocked off Michigan and the Wolverines' high-powered offense 8-5 on Saturday night in the West Regional of the NCAA hockey tournament.

T.J. Oshie scored three goals -- including a short-handed goal with 2:11 remaining to seal the win -- and also added an assist as North Dakota eliminated the Wolverines from the tournament for the second straight season. The Fighting Sioux beat Michigan 5-1 last season in Grand Forks, N.D.

North Dakota advanced to the regional championship Sunday against Minnesota, which beat Air Force 4-3 earlier in the day. North Dakota is 2-1 against the Gophers this season. However, the Fighting Sioux lost 3-2 in overtime in the championship game of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association tournament March 17.

"It's always a good game when you're playing the Gophers," Oshie said. "We have to play hard-nosed Sioux hockey."

Porter had two goals and an assist and defenseman Robbie Bina had a goal and two assists for North Dakota (23-13-5). Ryan Duncan contributed three assists.

T.J. Hensick, the nation's points leader, had two goals and an assist for Michigan (26-14-1). He also drew a 10-minute misconduct penalty in the third period and watched most of the last-period action from the box.

"It was extremely frustrating," said Hensick, who finished the season with 23 goals and 46 assists. "I wasn't very happy sitting in the box."

Michigan entered the game as the highest-scoring team in the nation, averaging 4.22 goals a game. The Wolverines started both the first and second periods by scoring two goals in the opening 58 seconds.

Each time, though, North Dakota recovered and led 4-3 after the first period and 7-5 after the second.

"It was a wild and crazy game," North Dakota coach Dave Hakstol said. "Whether it's 2-1 or 7-5, a win's a win."

Michigan goalie Billy Sauer was downcast after the game.

"We didn't play well," he said. "It had to be my worst start of the year."

Michigan coach Red Berenson felt for his goalie, who gave up seven goals and made just 19 saves.

"It was unbelievable," he said. "It was a goalie's nightmare."

The Fighting Sioux took advantage of Michigan's propensity for drawing penalties, converting 5 of 8 power-play opportunities through the first two high-scoring periods. North Dakota has the fourth-best power play in the nation.

In a game that featured tons of offense, one of the biggest plays of the game was when Fighting Sioux goalie Philippe Lamoureux stymied Hensick on a breakaway midway through the second period. It kept North Dakota's 7-5 lead in check.

Lamoureux also made two big saves on Michigan's Jack Johnson early in the third period.

"I made critical saves when I had to," Lamoureux said. "Sometimes you get into 2-1 games. Sometimes they are 8-5. I can win games either way."

North Dakota had quite a turnaround this season. The Fighting Sioux started the season 7-10-1 but were a different team after winter break in late December, going 16-3-4 the rest of the way.