No. 11 Minnesota defeats No. 6 North Dakota, 5-1
GRAND FORKS, N.D. (UND Athletics) - For just the second time in the last 10 years, the historic hockey rivalry between No. 6 North Dakota and No. 11 Minnesota returned to Grand Forks, this time to be played out before a sellout crowd of 11,624 Friday night at Ralph Engelstad Arena.
But from the standpoint of the Fighting Hawks (9-5-0), only the Golden Gophers (9-6-0) brought the fireworks in overwhelming North Dakota and its tepid performance 5-1 before a huge crowd the Gophers mostly silenced by controlling play the majority of the time.
Junior wing Bryce Brodzinski scored the first and last goals of the game for the Gophers while Chaz Lucius, Jack Perbix and Ryan Johnson added single goals as UND’s string of four straight wins in the series over Minnesota came to an abrupt end.
Sophomore wing Riese Gaber gave the fans a glimmer of hope with his seventh goal of the season at 3:41 of the third period, pulling the Hawks to within 3-1.
But UND couldn’t draw any closer. Coach Brad Berry pulled goalie Zach Driscoll for a sixth attacker with just under five minutes left in the game, but Minnesota countered that with an empty-netter from Lucius at 15:39 of the period. Brodzinski boomed a shot to the top corner with two minutes left for his eighth of the season to close it out.
“Hats off to them, they played a good game,’’ Berry said. And UND? “Not good enough,’’ Berry added.
UND captain Mark Senden echoed Berry’s comment.
“I think we were kind of getting away from who we are,’’ Senden said. “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.’’
It didn’t help that the Fighting Hawks made a misplay as well that gave the Gophers a big goal. UND’s defense misplayed a clearing puck from the Gophers, the puck bouncing past UND defenseman Brady Ferner.
Driscoll hesitated to come out for the puck, and when he did, he fanned on the puck with his stick, allowing Jack Perbix to walk around him and score into an empty net for a 2-0 Gopher lead at 7:33 of the second period. The Gophers had converted a slashing penalty on UND defenseman Chris Jandric into a power-play rebound goal by Brodzinski at 13:15 of the first period for a 1-0 Minnesota lead after one period.
UND mustered just four shots on goal in the opening 20 minutes, being outshot by Minnesota 14-4, including 10-0 over the last 10 minutes.
“They just played better than us,’’ said UND senior forward Gavin Hain, a Minnesota native (Grand Rapids).
For the game, Minnesota outshot North Dakota 32-22 and received 21 saves from senior goalie Jack LaFontaine. Driscoll stopped 27 of the 31 shots he faced under heavier pressure.
“The first couple of shifts, I thought it was good,’’ Berry said of UND’s start. “Then it kind of turned the other way. We did have a push in the third, but it was too late.’’
UND killed all but the last few seconds of the penalty on Jandric, but the goal by Brodzinski seemed to flip the momentum of the game the way of the Gophers.
“We had a ‘D’ zone faceoff with 12 seconds left in the penalty, and we give up one on our doorstep with 6 seconds left. That’s deflating a little bit,’’ Berry said.
“The major penalty for crosschecking to the head called on Kleven was his second major of the season. “We can’t have that going on,’’ Berry said. “It’s tough enough killing 2-minute minor penalties. Until we get that through our minds, it’s not going to be a good situation for us.’’
The loss dropped North Dakota to 9-5 overall while Minnesota improved to 9-6. UND came into the game ranked No. 2 nationally in the Pairwise rankings, Minnesota No. 17. After the game ended, North Dakota dropped to No, 5 in the Pairwise, while Minnesota moved up to No. 8.
Berry sent a strong message to his players about taking major penalties. “When you’re delivering a check, obviously you have to be cognizant of being around the boards and open-ice hits with elbows and different things. You have to be in control,’’ Berry said. “There’s no excuse for the two-handed crosscheck. At the end of the day, when there’s extra bodies available to put in the lineups, we’ll do that. We’ll make changes.’’
NOTES: Minnesota, which came into the game connecting at 28.9% on the power play, converted 1 of 5 with 10 shots on goal . . . UND was 0-4 on the power play with just 3 shots on goal . . . Gaber and Ashton Calder had 3 shots on goal each to pace UND, but Calder was a minus 4 in the plus/minus rating . . . Lucius had 6 shots on goal to pace Minnesota. . . UND did win the faceoffs 28-23, led by Connor Ford (13 of 23) and Jake Schmaltz (6 of 10) . . . Named the three stars by the media were Brodzinski, LaFontaine and Blake McLaughlin, in that order . . . McLaughlin and Brodzinski both had 4 shots on goal for Minnesota . . . Saturday’s series finale is scheduled for a 6:07 start ... The loss was the worst at home since a 5-0 loss to Minnesota Duluth on Nov. 30, 2018 ... UND has dropped back-to-back non-conference games at home for the first time since Oct. 20-21, 2006 vs. Maine.
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