Men’s Hockey Live Blog-GAME 3-Gophers vs. (5) North Dakota

Max Sanders

FINAL-Minnesota will be on the outside looking in of the WCHA Final Five for the first time in 12 seasons. The Gophers drop to 3-2 all-time in Game 3’s. North Dakota takes the season series 3-2-2. 00:42 3rd-North Dakota adds an empty-netter from Brad Hextall, lowering the heads of Tony Lucia and Josh Birkholz on the Minnesota bench, as they now know this one is over. GOPHERS 1; NORTH DAKOTA 4. 8:36 3rd-The likely dagger in Minnesota’s season comes from Frattin. The junior scored the power play goal after firing a second shot from just outside the far Gophers face off circle. GOPHERS 1; NORTH DAKOTA 3. 10:00 3rd-The Gophers will have to attempt a comeback a man down, as Cade Fairchild is sent to the box for holding. 12:46 3rd-Minnesota continues to attack, as Seth Helgeson fired a shot from the far point that was stopped by Eidsness. 12:58 3rd-A fast moving third period continues with back-and-forth-action on each end, the latest when Jordan Schroeder fired a shot that was stopped by Eidsness. 16:02 3rd-The Gophers kill off another power play, and after an offsides call on Minnesota there will be a faceoff in the neutral zone circle. 18:28 3rd-Not a good start to the final period of regulation for Minnesota, as Patrick White is sent to the box for hooking. INJURY NOTE: Kevin Wehrs, on the receiving end of a vicious hit by Frattin, is officially out of the remainder of tonight’s game. Second Intermission Re-Cap: Goals: Gophers 0; North Dakota 1(Gregoire) Shots on Goal: Gophers 12; North Dakota 5 Penalties: Gophers 3; North Dakota 4 Instant Analysis: A hard-hitting, penalty filled second period comes to a close. Minnesota did its best penalty killing job of the weekend, but immediately following the last penalty Jason Gregoire tipped in the Kristo shot for the go-ahead goal. The second period is the type of game expected between these teams, look for the level of physicality to only escalate as we approach the third and final period of regulation in this tightly-contested 1 goal game. 1:55 2nd-Minnesota will be on the power play, as Frattin is called for holding. 3:42 2nd-Immediately following the power play, North Dakota bangs home the go-ahead score. Danny Kristo fired a shot from the slot that was tipped by Jason Gregoire past Kangas for the go-ahead goal. GOPHERS 1; NORTH DAKOTA 2. 4:17 2nd-Minnesota is playing its best hockey of the night on the penalty kill. The Gophers have had the two best chances on the Sioux power play. The first came on a nifty move by Mike Carman. The senior deked one defender and fired a backhander that hit off the crossbar. The second came when Tony Lucia found Cade Fairchild on the nice outlet pass for the breakaway, but Fairchild’s shot was chest saved by Eidsness. 5:48 2nd-Blood crashed the net on a Sioux shot. The net came loose, and Kangas shoved Blood after play had been whistled dead. Kangas was called for roughing, and serving the penalty will be Josh Birkholz. 6:33 2nd-Minnesota is lucky to still be tied. Chris VandeVelde fired a shot from the point that was left right in front of the wide open net, but Frattin banged it just wide, missing what would have been the go-ahead goal. 7:23 2nd-Seth Helgeson and Corban Knight get tangled in the far boards following a Helgeson check. Helgeson is sent to the box for roughing, while Knight is sent off for holding. 10:15 2nd-The five-minute major comes to an end, and the Gophers managed just three shots on net. North Dakota played stifling defense, and the crowd is not on its feet in support of the penalty kill effort. 15:18 2nd-Kevin Wehrs is absolutely decked in the Minnesota zone by Matt Frattin. Frattin jumped up to hit Wehrs, and is issued a five-minute major for contact to the head/charging. After the hit there was an all-out brawl, in which everybody on ice exchange punches, including goalie Alex Kangas. Wehrs lay on the ground motionless while the players were fighting around him, before getting helped off the ice by a trainer and taken to the locker room. There will be a faceoff in the North Dakota far circle. A total of three players are sent to the box, two for North Dakota and one for Minnesota. First Intermission Re-Cap: Goals: Gophers 1(Hansen); North Dakota 1 (Blood) Shots on Goal: Gophers 3; North Dakota 13 Penalties: Gophers 3; North Dakota 1 Instant Analysis: The start of tonight’s game looked eerily reminiscent of Friday’s game. Minnesota was out-shot 8-0 in the early minutes and committed three penalties in under 10 minutes. The second of those penalties cost the Gophers as Ben Blood fired a shot from just outside the far point that went high and past Kangas. However, Minnesota responded. Sophomore Jake Hansen lost control of the puck in the slot but managed to fire a shot on net that somehow went past Eidsness for the equalizer. With how the Gophers opened the game, they have to be thrilled they are tied heading into the second period. 2:28 1st-The Gophers power play comes to an end, with another dismal display. Minnesota has struggled on power play for a majority of the weekend series. The Gophers managed zero shots on net in their latest effort, with the best chances actually by North Dakota. The Sioux had multiple strong looks on net, and even a clearing effort fired from near center ice nearly sneaked past Kangas before getting deflected at the last second. 6:28 1st-Minnesota finally gets a chance to be on the receiving end of the power play, as North Dakota’s Brad Malone is sent to the box for interference. 8:26 1st-The goal completely quiets what had been a raucous North Dakota crowd. Minnesota’s goal came on its first shot of the night. North Dakota leads the shot tally 12-2. 8:50 1st-Wow. Just like that, a period North Dakota has dominated goes the complete other way. Jake Hansen lost control of the puck in the slot but managed to put a shot on net that somehow found its way through Eidsness for the equalizer. GOPHERS 1; NORTH DAKOTA 1. 11:04 1st-Minnesota kills of yet another penalty, but North Dakota is in complete control of the game. The Sioux are keeping pressure entirely in Minnesota’s zone, and are firing shot upon shot on Kangas. The shot total thus far: 8-0 in favor of North Dakota. Sound familiar? 14:33 1st-The Gophers are starting to unravel. Jacob Cepis is called for tripping as North Dakota was threatening in the Minnesota zone. The penalty is the third of the game for Minnesota, and we are less than halfway through the first period. 15:01 1st-The penalty costs Minnesota. Ben Blood fired a shot from just outside the far circle that went high and past Kangas for the power play goal. After review, the goal call was upheld. GOPHERS 0; NORTH DAKOTA 1. 15:46 1st-Minnesota has a man sent to the box for the second time in under five minutes. This time it’s Kevin Wehrs, called for interference. The Gophers hammered Matt Frattin on the far boards a minute earlier and were lucky to escape penalty on that pay, but weren’t as fortunate on Wehrs’ penalty. 16:38 1st-Minnesota kills off the Sioux power play, allowing juts one shot on goal. The Gophers have come out strong thus far, blocking shots and creating opportunities on the offensive end. This looks to be the effort of last night’s 4-2 winning team, and not Friday’s 6-0 embarrassment. 18:57 1st-The Gophers had the first chance of the night, as shorthanded Tony Lucia looked for a wide-open Mike Carman for the breakaway opportunity, but the pass was too strong and went past Carman, where Eidsness cleared it out. 19:26 1st-First penalty of the game just more then 30 seconds in, as Minnesota’s Cade Fairchild is called for slashing. The game is, as expected, deliberate and hard-hitting thus far.

It’s game 3, what more do I need to say? Let’s play post-season, season-at-stake, trip to Xcel on the line, elimination hockey.