Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Former Sioux Combine to Beat BC Alum in Devils OT Win

North Dakota hasn’t really gotten the best of Boston College lately, but a couple of former Fighting Sioux teamed up Tuesday night in the Stanley Cup Playoffs against an Eagle alumnus to keep the New Jersey Devils season going. 

Travis Zajac’s wrist shot 5:39 into overtime at the Prudential Center in Newark  lifted the Devils to a 3-2 win over the visiting Florida Panthers and into seventh heaven—or at least a seventh and deciding game on Thursday evening in Sunrise, Fla. Assisting on the goal against former BC goaltender Scott Clemmensen was linemate and former fellow Sioux forward Zach Parise.

Florida, which was seeking to close out New Jersey for its first playoff series victory since 1996, rebounded from a 2-0 deficit in the second period, after Zajac had helped set up one of the Devils’ two goals. The Devils outshot the Panthers, 36-13, in regulation, and then by a 5-2 margin in overtime before the end came.

After Parise backchecked hard to help foil a Florida rush in the extra session, Zajac picked up a rebound off goaltender Martin Brodeur near the Devils' net, skated up the right wing, and sent a pass across the neutral zone to Parise. The puck deflected off Devils forward Ilya Kovalchuk and behind Parise, but the Devils' captain managed to turn and bank the puck off the boards to Kovalchuk. 

New Jersey’s top goal-scorer then skated left to right across the Florida blue line, pulling a defenseman towards him, before he slid the puck to a more-or-less open Zajac in the left circle. The former UND star skated straight in and fired a low wrister past former New Jersey teammate Clemmensen (39 saves) to extend the Devils' season for at least one more contest. 

Zajac, a Winnipeg native, played for UND from 2004 to 2006, tallying 35 goals and 48 assists for 83 points in 89 games, and also helped North Dakota to the 2005 NCAA Championship Game. Parise, from Minneapolis, starred with the Sioux from 2002 to 2004, collecting 49-67—116 points in 76 outings. Clemmensen, who was making just his second career NHL playoff start in Game 6, played at BC from 1997 to 2001, accumulating 99 wins, 13 shutouts, and the 2001 NCAA national championship.

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