It may go down as one of the more embarrassing losses in recent Gophers history, during a season in which there have been several.
But after surrendering a three-goal first-period lead by allowing North Dakota to score five unanswered goals in the third period on Sunday, Gophers coach Doug Woog refused to say whether this was the worst.
“I don’t know,” Woog said. “They all blend together.”
With the 4-2, 5-3 sweep by the Sioux, Minnesota dropped to 12-18 overall, 8-14 in the WCHA. Those numbers make this the Gophers’ worst season in 13 years under Woog. Minnesota would now have to win out against Alaska-Anchorage, Colorado College and St. Cloud State in the last six games of the season to reach .500.
The last time the Gophers finished the season with more losses than wins was in 1972-73, Herb Brooks’ first season as coach. Minnesota has ended the season under .500 only 12 times since the birth of the program in 1921, spanning 76 seasons.
Woog is generally well-mannered after a game, win or lose. But after Saturday’s game, the Gophers coach was as hot under the collar as he’s been all season.
As he emerged from the locker room, Woog posed a rhetorical question to the assembled press, asking whether one of his veterans was actually enrolled at the University.
“I just want to know where (he) goes to school, that’s all,” Woog said. “It can’t be Minnesota.”
Later, Woog took a subtle shot at the officiating — “I wish I could comment on a few other things, but I can’t” — and said that without goalie Steve DeBus between the pipes, the game would have gotten out of hand.
“Without him, we were in trouble,” Woog said. “I wasn’t particularly enamored with the play of some of our guys.”
Still, with the score tied at 2-2 after two periods of the relentless Sioux attack, Woog said he thought the Gophers were going to escape with their first victory in North Dakota in four seasons.
“I actually thought we were going to win the game,” Woog said. “Then the worm started to turn.”
Worms didn’t have much to do with anything, however. The Sioux outscored Minnesota 7-0 in the third period over the weekend.
So, understandably, his mood hadn’t improved much after Sunday’s game. To make matters worse, the team flight to Minneapolis was cancelled due to fog.
“That’s a treat,” Woog said. “Another night in Grand Forks.”
ù Junior forward Dave Hoogsteen, North Dakota’s leading scorer heading into the weekend, missed most of Saturday’s game and all of Sunday’s with a sore right shoulder. Hoogsteen was wearing a sling on Saturday, but he sat in the press box on Sunday and appeared to be OK.
ù The Gophers’ road losing streak now stands at 10 games, a program record. Minnesota last won on the road on Nov. 7, a 4-2 win at Wisconsin.
ù Out of the Believe it or Not file: The Gophers made it through the weekend without suffering an injury that will force anyone out of the lineup next weekend against Alaska-Anchorage.