Roche bursts out with six point night

David La

Defending champion North Dakota endured a pair of big hits to its lineup after last season, losing big-hitting defensemen Tim O’Connell and Mike Commodore.
The blueliners each stood an imposing 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds without skates, putting fear into opponents with their large frames and nasty dispositions.
As a seedling trying to steal sunlight from oaks like O’Connell and Commodore, Travis Roche grew into a point producer for the Fighting Sioux in his freshman season.
Roche compiled 22 points and was named to the WCHA all-rookie team last season.
At 6-foot-1, 190-pounds, Roche isn’t as physical as the departed behemoths, but stick in hand, he shares their knack for intimidation.
Roche dished out six assists in North Dakota’s 7-5 win on Friday, doubling his season total. The performance, which tied a school record, was anything but preconceived.
“We were getting ready before the game and I told (teammate) Aaron Schneekloth, `The legs just don’t feel very good tonight,'” Roche said.
Who could tell?
“Travis was good offensively but I thought he played his best game of the year defensively,” Fighting Sioux coach Dean Blais said. “Against Denver last weekend he had some lapses, but he was rock-solid at both ends of the rink tonight.”
Friday’s game was paced by Roche and Minnesota defenseman Jordan Leopold, who led the Gophers with two goals.
“I think they’re two of the premier defensemen in the league, both offensively and defensively,” Minnesota coach Don Lucia said.
Who’s number one?
Following Saturday night’s game, Blais was asked if Minnesota should still be considered the nation’s No. 1 team.
“No,” Blais said. “I don’t think you’re going to stay at the top when you lose and tie the seventh place team.”
For the Gophers, its a distinction they’ll be content to lose.
“I don’t think we were the number one team to start with,” Lucia said. “We were just undefeated.”
Not to be denied
North Dakota’s Jason Notermann left Friday’s game in the first period, going to the hospital for x-rays of his clavicle. The sophomore forward came back and played in the third period, but failed to get on the scoreboard.
Fighting Sioux brothers Bryan and David Lundbohm each scored a goal Friday — the second time this season the duo lit the lamp in the same game.

David La Vaque covers men’s hockey and welcomes comments at [email protected]