Gophers hold on to win 4-3, earn split with UND

Brian Deutsch

Grand Forks, N.D. ñ A night after losing the game in final period, the Minnesota men’s hockey team almost gave the game away again tonight against North Dakota.

Last night, it took the Gophers over 47 minutes to score its first goal.

The Gophers would cut that time down considerably tonight on their way to a 4-3 win over North Dakota at Engelstad Arena.

Freshman forward Mike Hoeffel stepped up for Minnesota 2:37 minutes into the game when he scored the first of two goals on the evening.

“It was important to come out tonight and give it our best effort,” Hoeffel said. “Öwe came out tonight and played hard. We’re just really happy we came away with a win.”

Hoeffel, who came into the game with just one goal all season, took the puck off the stick of a North Dakota defenseman and fired a shot top-shelf for the pure goal.

Sioux junior forward T.J. Oshie would get his team back in the game 11 minutes later when he redirected a shot past freshman goalie Alex Kangas using his skate.

But Oshie’s goal would prove inadequate though as Minnesota picked up another three goals to take a 4-1 lead into the third period.

Junior forward Blake Wheeler and senior forward Ben Gordon each picked up a goal ñ Wheeler also overtook Gordon for Minnesota’s point lead tonight with 15 ñ while Hoeffel added his second goal of the game.

But Gordon’s goal proved to be the icing on the cake for the Gophers.

The senior’s goal, which Gordon tipped in from the side of the net, came with just over one second left in second period ñ sending the Sioux into the second intermission deflated.

“Somehow it just squirted through, and I managed to get my stick on it,” Gordon said.

But like last night, the third period never was in favor of a Gophers’ victory.

Junior forward Ryan Duncan and sophomore forward Chris VandeVelde both netted a score in the period.

Duncan’s goal at the 16:00 mark raised some eyebrows, but 1:35 later, VandeVelde’s put Minnesota on red alert.

But even after Sioux coach Dave Hakstol pulled senior goalie Jean-Phillipe Lamoureux with over a minute left in regulation in favor of the extra-attacker, it was incidentally the Sioux who kept themselves from pressuring Kangas in the final moments as a errant pass went back into the North Dakota zone as time expired.

“I’m disappointed in our overall performance. I don’t want to be over-critical and anything of that nature but to sweep a series in this league you have to have desperation through 60 minutes,” Hakstol said. We couldn’t put that together today for sixty minutes, that’s what’s disappointing.”

In goal for Minnesota, Kangas earned the win, but definitely did not put up his best showing of his young career.

The freshman net-minder stopped 22 of 25 shots ñ a relatively low amount considering the competition.

But unlike Friday’s game, tonight the Gophers’ goalie was able to out-perform Lamoureux in net for the Sioux.

Meanwhile, Lamoureux, who had received high praise from members of both teams after his performance last night, couldn’t duplicate Friday’s performance.

The senior allowed four goal on 33 shots in the loss.