Bozek leads Gophers to a series split with UND

Alyssa Grogan saw the ice briefly Saturday for the first time in 16 months.

Gophers' junior Megan Bozek handles a puck during a game against North Dakota on Saturday at Ridder Arena.

Gophers’ junior Megan Bozek handles a puck during a game against North Dakota on Saturday at Ridder Arena.

Dane Mizutani

It was a 9.8 second span Saturday that defined an otherwise inconsequential weekend for the Gophers.

Minnesota’s place in the WCHA standing was secure — it could not pull even with No. 1 Wisconsin, which won Friday, and No. 3 UND had no chance of catching the Gophers.

With the game well in hand on Saturday, head coach Brad Frost called a timeout with 9.8 seconds remaining.

Senior goaltender Alyssa Grogan skated toward the net, and Ridder Arena erupted.

Grogan had missed the last 16 months due to a severe concussion injury, during which there were talks that she would never play hockey again.

Yet, there she was Saturday, on Senior Day, guarding the crease one last time.

“The 9.8 seconds were probably the best 9.8 seconds I’ve been a part of in a long time — getting Alyssa in there,” Frost said. “I know those are seconds she’ll never forget too.”

Once the final horn sounded, No. 2 Minnesota (27-5-2, 21-5-2-1 WCHA) walked away with a 5-2 victory and series split with North Dakota.

The Gophers outplayed UND all weekend, but the team couldn’t finish Friday as Josefine Jakobsen scored the game-winning goal in UND’s 2-1 win with 35.3 seconds left in overtime.

Jakobsen deflected a shot off the Gophers’ Anne Schleper and past goaltender Noora Räty.

“They just hang on until the last minute,” Schleper said Friday. “They get a bounce here or there, and they capitalize and in a sense get lucky, I guess.”

Jen Schoullis scored the only goal for Minnesota in the game.

Jocelyne Lamoureux scored to tie the game at 1-1 early in the third before Jakobsen lifted her team to the win in overtime.

Minnesota rebounded from its Friday-night lapse with a 5-2 win over North Dakota Saturday.

“What a better team to beat on Senior Day,” senior Sarah Erickson said with a grin Saturday. “We’ve been through a lot with that team in general and a lot of history dates back, and we’re happy to get a win.”

The Gophers honored seven seniors before the game in their last regular-season home game, but junior Megan Bozek stole the show.

Bozek had a hand in four of Minnesota’s five goals Saturday with one goal and three assists to pace the team to victory. She assisted on the first three goals before tallying a goal of her own early in the third period.

“I think she’s the best defenseman in the country with the way she’s been playing this year,” Frost said. “Megan has taken her game to a whole [different] level offensively, but it’s because of her play defensively that allows her to do that.”

Erickson had the first goal of the game and the game-winning goal. Sandwiched in between was Amanda Kessel’s team-leading 26th goal of the season.

North Dakota stuck to its gritty style the entire night and took six penalties in the first period alone.

“They win games like that, and they know they win games like that,” Erickson said. “We battled through a lot of the mind games … with them. We knew if we just stuck with our play we’d be all right.”

The Gophers didn’t capitalize on any of their power-play chances in the first period, and UND converted on its only power play in the frame.

Lamoureux tied the game at 1-1 with her WCHA-leading 33rd goal of the season.

In the second and third periods, Minnesota flourished and busted the game wide open.

Kessel and Erickson both scored in the second to make it 3-1. Bozek and Becky Kortum followed suit and added goals in the third period to stretch the lead to four.

Jakobsen scored for UND late in the third period to put the final score at 5-2.

“I was angry last night,” Frost said Saturday. “I wasn’t angry at any one player on our team, I was just angry at the result.

“We’ve been playing great defensively, but we have to score goals to beat these guys and so tonight to be able to put in five was great.”

 

-Charlie Armitz contributed
to this report.