The men’s ice hockey team opened the 2003-2004 season this past weekend with two big losses to the Fighting Sioux of North Dakota, who are ranked 2nd in the nation by two different publications, USA Today/American Hockey Magazine and the USHCO.

“I am worried about going into the lion’s den without better tuning,” head coach Tim Taylor said prior to the trip.

Taylor’s worries now seem justified. In the first game on Friday night the Fighting Sioux won 8-4.

The opening minutes looked promising for the Elis, as Zach Mayer ’06 scored off a pass from Jeff Hristovski ’06 at just 1:25 into the first period. Yale led 1-0 as the teams went in for the first intermission.

But that was the last lead Yale would have over North Dakota all weekend. The Fighting Sioux got on the board early in the second as forward Mike Prpich scored off a pass from center Rory McMahon just 2:17 into the period.

Less than four minutes later, during a scrum in front of the net, North Dakota took the lead as forward Drew Stafford knocked the puck past goalie Josh Gartner ’06, who started the game for Yale.

The Fighting Sioux stretched the goal margin to two with a shot from Quinn Fylling at 12:36 in the second. Christian Jensen ’06 brought Yale back to within one when he rifled a shot past goalie Zach Parise at 13:50.

Off a pass from Chris Porter, Colby Genoway scored at 13:50 to regain a two-goal lead for the Sioux.

Going into the second intermission, Yale was still in the game, just trailing 4-2. However, just 44 seconds into the third, North Dakota began to pull away. A tally from Brandon Bochenski, assisted by Brady Murray began the barrage. Murray struck again at 3:05 when he fed Quinn Fylling for a goal.

At 8:26 Yale’s Joe Zappala ’06 cut the deficit to 6-3, with an acrobatic goal. After a pass from Brad Mills ’07, Zappala fell to his knees, but was still able to bang the puck into the net.

A goalie change for both teams came after North Dakota’s Matt Jones scored at 11:12. Peter Cohen ’05 came in for Gartner, while freshman Nate Ziegelmann replaced Brandt.

Each team tallied one more, with goals from UND’s Brandon Bochenski and Yale’s Nathan Murphy ’04.

North Dakota dominated many aspects of the game, outshooting Yale 42-14 and winning the faceoff battle 44-33.

After a tiring and hard-fought battle on Friday night, Yale and North Dakota took to the ice again on Saturday. But this time around, it was not even close, as the Fighting Sioux dominated the Elis 10-0.

For the Bulldogs, Taylor started Cohen in net, keeping Cohen’s performance in the first game in mind.

Just 13 seconds into the match, Murray flew down the ice and fired the puck past Cohen to open the scoring for the Sioux, who never looked back. North Dakota outshot Yale 15-3 in the first period, scoring four times.

The second period held no better luck for Yale, as North Dakota continued to dominate, adding four more to the scoreboard. Two additional goals were added in the third, to give the Sioux a double-figure slaughtering of the Bulldogs. Yet again North Dakota had maintained puck control, out-shooting the Elis 47-12.

The Fighting Sioux offensive attack was led by a hat-trick from Zach Parise and two goals from Fylling.

In the third period, Gartner went back to work between the pipes, relieving Cohen, who gave up eight goals in the first two periods.

Due to a late flight, Yale players and coaches were not available for comment.

Preparation and game experience were major factors in the two games.

The Elis traveled to Grand Forks, North Dakota having played only one game, an exhibition match against the University of Guelph. While the Bulldogs destroyed Guelph 8-3, the game did not help Yale to prepare for what lay ahead.

On the other hand, North Dakota had played three games against two of the nation’s top teams. The Fighting Sioux opened their season on Oct. 3 with a 3-2 win over national powerhouse Minnesota-Duluth. North Dakota then split a two-game series with Boston College, winning the first game 6-4 and losing the second 1-2.

Yale looks for its first victory Nov. 7-8 when the Bulldogs take on Cornell and Colgate.