Penalties haunt Gophers in loss

John Hageman

GRAND FORKS, N.D.–It took almost all of three periods to decide Friday’s nail-biting 3-2 Minnesota win.

It took just one period Saturday to set the stage for a North Dakota victory.

After a first period filled with special teams and occupied penalty boxes, the Gophers men’s hockey team (10-9-3, 7-7-2) never regained any semblance of offensive rhythm and fell 4-1 to the No. 2 Sioux (17-6-2, 12-4-0) at Ralph Engelstad Arena Saturday night. The Gophers committed the first four penalties of the game.

“To me, the penalties dictated the game tonight,” Minnesota head coach Don Lucia said. “[North Dakota] seized the momentum.”

The biggest penalties of the night came on the same play. After Jay Barriball crosschecked Ben Blood near the blue line, he tripped Chay Genoway, earning him four minutes in the box. Just a minute later, Aaron Ness was sent to the box for a controversial crosschecking call.

The Sioux took advantage of the two extra men with a goal from Brad Malone to take a 2-1 lead, which ended up being the game-winner.

 “Only giving up the one goal, I thought, ‘Wow, we came out of it okay,’” Lucia said. “I thought we still had a chance at that point in time. And I thought the longer we could hang, maybe we would make a play.”

Minnesota was outshot 17-5 in the first.

The Gophers’ lone goal came on a fluke, when freshman defender Mark Alt threw the puck towards the net from the blue line, and it somehow found its way past Aaron Dell at 8:54 in the first to break the scoreless tie.

For the second night in a row, the Gophers weathered the storm of the hostile environment and managed to get on the board first.

But the Sioux responded less than a minute later when Evan Trupp stole the puck from Nick Larson in the Minnesota zone, and sent it past Minnesota goaltender Kent Patterson.

The Gophers were only outshot 26-22, but good opportunities were few and far between.

The Sioux made the most of their nine shots on net in the final two periods combined, adding two goals to seal the win and avoid a sweep.

The Gophers have next weekend off, and will take the bittersweet taste of a split with a hated rival into a weekend series with Alaska Anchorage at Mariucci Arena Jan. 28-29.

“After you win a game like we did on Friday night and how good it felt, it’s hard to settle with 1-1,” Alt said. “It’s not the exact feeling we wanted.”