GRAND FORKS, ND– The rivalry between Minnesota and North Dakota in college hockey runs deep. In their 291st meeting, it was all Golden Gophers, as they took the momentum in the first period and got a couple lucky bounces, while also stymieing the Fighting Hawks offense to take home the 5-1 victory on Friday night.
The first part of the frame was a feeling out period, but Minnesota would soon take the advantage offensively, mostly due to extended power play time. On one of those power play attempts, Bryce Brodzinski broke the ice for the Gophers, batting in a bouncing puck off a face off in the North Dakota zone. The puck landed around Zach Driscoll’s crease and took a Minnesota bounce and squeaked over the goal line for the opening score. Minnesota kept their pressure on and ended the period with a 14-4 shot advantage.
A bad break haunted North Dakota, as a Rhett Pitlick dump in was whiffed on by Driscoll, who attempted to play the puck and Jack Perbix put home an easy goal. North Dakota then started to pepper Minnesota on a power play, but a shot ringing off the post and many blocked shots in front kept them off the board. Moments after the shot hitting the post, Ryan Johnson shot one from the point that went off the shin pad of Nick Portz and behind Driscoll for a 3-0 Gophers lead. The Fighting Hawks put pressure on, trying to get back into the game, but Jack LaFontaine was strong in his net and kept the Hawks off the board.
UND had a big opportunity in the beginning of the third period with a two-man advantage, but the movement around the zone did not warrant many shots, as the Gophers defense got in the shooting lanes. Riese Gaber did get the Hawks on the board after the power plays expired, picking up a Gavin Hain rebound and putting it over the shoulder of LaFontaine to make it a 3-1 game. North Dakota got back in a hole, as Tyler Kleven got a five and game for contact to the head, the second straight weekend a North Dakota player was ejected for that call. While they killed off that penalty, it killed their momentum after the goal. With just under five minutes left, North Dakota pulled Driscoll, but with no sustained control of the puck, Minnesota got it out of the zone and Chaz Lucius made it a 4-1 game. To add insult to injury, Brodzinski got his second of the night on a clearing attempt by Blake McLaughlin and shot it in-stride under Driscoll’s arm for the 5-1 goal, which is how the game ended.
THEY SAID IT
“I think it’s a mindset of remaining true to what our identity is and making it harder on other teams where we put pucks in the offensive zone and collectively we get two or three guys around the puck. Tonight, I thought we were a lot of one-and-done, battling for a puck with one guy and not a second guy. When we’re a cohesive unit, we’re putting pucks behind d-cores and playing well in the offensive zone. That’s how you generate it. The other part is that I thought we were too cute trying to find seam passes and different plays where you got to get greasy and dirty sometimes, especially on nights when it isn’t going your way.” — Head coach Brad Berry’s assessment of the the UND offensive game
“We were turning pucks over. We weren’t getting pucks behind their defense. Weren’t getting on their defense. Just not doing things to generate offense.” — Gavin Hain on what didn’t go right for UND
“I think we were kind of getting away from who we are. We just got to get pucks deep. We were trying, maybe, to make one too many plays. We’ve got to keep it simple. That’s what’s been working for us.” — Mark Senden on the loss