Minnesota drops first game of weekend series with UND

Brock Nelson scored the game-winning goal for North Dakota.

Dane Mizutani

Grand Forks, N.D. — No. 5 Minnesota (15-8-1, 11-4-0 WCHA) lost a tense battle to North Dakota on the road Friday night.

The Gophers jumped out to an early lead, but a late second-period goal and the game winner by Brock Nelson with less than five minutes to play propelled No. 17 UND (12-8-2, 8-7-0 WCHA) to a 2-1 victory.  

Neither team provided much fire power in the first period âÄî combining for just 15 shots.

Danny Kristo, an Eden Prairie native, was the exception to the offensive complacency for UND. He accounted for three of its seven shots in the frame.

However, late in the period KristoâÄôs night came to an abrupt and premature end when he leveled Minnesota defenseman Ben Marshall with a check from behind. 

Kristo received a game misconduct for the illegal hit and the Gophers started a five-minute power play that carried over into the second period.

Minnesota was unable to convert with the man advantage and UND escaped unharmed.

Despite failing to score on the extended power play, Minnesota drew first blood in the battle.

Nick Bjugstad created space after winning the face off in his own zone and blistered a cross-ice pass to Zach Budish.

BudishâÄôs initial shot was fought off by goaltender Aaron Dell, but Kyle Rau âÄî as he has seemed to be all year âÄî was there for the rebound. It was his 13th goal of the season.

Less than five minutes after Rau put the Gophers on the board, the malice from the first meeting resurfaced.

Kent Patterson attempted to cover up a puck in his crease and was upended by Mario Lamoureux.

Chaos ensued in front of the net, and each team sent three players to the box as a result.

UND continued its attack late into the second, and just when it seemed the Gophers would escape with a one-goal lead heading into the third period, an untimely turnover led to an even more untimely goal.

Andrew MacWilliam lit the lamp for the first time in his 102-game career, and got the crowd of 11,846 back into it with nine seconds left in the frame.

It appeared UND would have an edge in momentum heading into the third after scoring late in the second period, but defense prevailed.

Minnesota had a prime chance to take control of the game on the power play at 8:01 into the third period, but a Seth Ambroz boarding call negated the man advantage.

Neither team converted on its power play opportunities in the third period.

Then Nelson âÄî UNDâÄôs leading scorer âÄî took matters into his own hands.

Following a scrum in the far corner of the Gophers zone, Nelson controlled the puck and beat Patterson five-hole to put UND on top for good, 2-1.

The Gophers will look for a split tomorrow night at the Ralph Engelstad Arena.