Gophers make losers out of UND

Michael Rand

The score of Friday night’s hockey game between rivals Minnesota and North Dakota resembled that of a well-pitched baseball game. Saturday night’s score was more reminiscent of a low-scoring football game.
Although Minnesota’s 3-2 and 10-6 wins had few things in common, the one constant — victory — left the Gophers players satisfied with a weekend series for the first time this season. It also significantly tightened the WCHA race.
The Gophers (5-3-0) are now just two points behind the league-leading Sioux (6-2-0), who dropped their first two games of the season this weekend.
Both teams scored some nice goals, but, on the whole the games were anything but pretty. Defensive lapses were commonplace, particularly in Saturday night’s forgettable second and third periods.
Speaking of his team’s defense in the series finale, UND coach Dean Blais said, “They were probably the worst as a unit I’ve seen all year.” He added that, “10-6 was probably a disgrace to both teams.”
One player who didn’t seem to mind the fast and furious goal scoring was Gophers winger Casey Hankinson. The junior scored four goals and added two assists in Saturday’s game, marking the first time a Minnesota player had scored four times in a game since Larry Olimb pocketed four goals against Colorado College on Jan. 25, 1992.
After Wyatt Smith opened the scoring with a rebound goal off of his own shot, Hankinson put Minnesota ahead 2-0 in the first period with a power play goal. Instead of deflecting what appeared to be a shot from the point by Mike Crowley, Hankinson controlled the puck and lifted a blind backhand shot over the shoulder of Sioux goalie Toby Kvalevog.
“I’m not going to kid you,” Hankinson said. “I had no idea where I was shooting.”
Hankinson added another goal at 7:29 of the second period, and Brett Abrahamson’s between-the-legs redirection of a pass from Ben Clymer gave the Gophers a 4-0 lead less than two minutes later.
But a giveaway by defenseman Brian LaFleur while goalie Steve DeBus was behind the net allowed UND’s David Hoogsteen to fire a quick shot into a vacated goal at 11:29 of the second period. Two minutes later, Curtis Murphy’s power play goal pushed UND back to within two goals.
The Gophers responded quickly, however. Less than 30 seconds after Murphy’s goal, Mike Anderson and Brian LaFleur skated in on a 2-on-1 break. Anderson’s pass was deflected by a Sioux defenseman, but LaFleur batted the puck out of midair past Kvalevog to open up the floodgates once again.
“We get the next goal, it’s 4-3, and who knows?” Blais said.
Minnesota scored twice more in the period, essentially pushing the game out of reach.
Friday night’s contest, in comparison, was a battle from start to finish. The Gophers owned the only first period goal when Erik Rasmussen scored short-handed at 18:29.
The teams traded goals in the second period, and Smith’s slap shot early in the third period gave Minnesota a 3-1 lead. UND’s Jay Panzer narrowed the gap to 3-2 with just under nine minutes left, but, as was the case through most of the game, Minnesota’s goaltending and defense held the lead.
DeBus stopped 27 of 29 shots, out-dueling Kvalevog, who faced the same number of shots but allowed one more goal. Both goalies were particularly sharp in the opening period, turning away a total of 26 shots.
“DeBus was great. He really took some of the pressure off us in the first period,” said Gophers coach Doug Woog.
The sweep was Minnesota’s first of the year, after it split its first three series this season. The Gophers host Michigan Tech next weekend in a rare Saturday/Sunday series.
“Every game we have needed to win, we have won this year,” Woog said. “We’re not 8-0, we’re 5-3. But we’ve won some big games.”

FRIDAY’S SUMMARY
North Dakota 0 1 1 — 2
Gophers 1 1 1 — 3

First Period: Minn. — Rasmussen 5 (Kraft, Abrahamson) SHG, 18:29.
Second Period: UND — Henderson 1 (Kallay, Vig), 13:57. Minn. — N. Miller 2 (Woog, J. Godbout), 14:54.
Third Period: Minn. — Smith 2 (Hankinson, Lyons), :46. UND — Panzer 4 (Ulmer), 11:04.

SATURDAY’S SUMMARY
North Dakota 0 2 4 — 6
Gophers 2 5 3 — 10

First Period: Minn. — Smith 3 (LaFleur), 12:54. Hankinson 3 (Crowley, Kraft) PPG, 14:59.
Second Period: Minn. — Hankinson 4 (Rasmussen) PPG, 7:29. Minn. — Abrahamson 1 (Clymer, Spehar), 9:09. UND — D. Hoogsteen 6 (unassisted), 10:56. UND — Murphy 4 (D. Hoogsteen, Panzer) PPG, 12:57. Minn. — LaFleur 3 (Anderson), 13:24. Minn. — Lyons 1 (Spehar, Woog), 14:40. Minn. — Hankinson 5 (Berg, Lyons), 17:59.
Third Period: Minn. — Kohn 2 (Hankinson), 3:24. UND — Rice 3 (unassisted) PPG, 9:56. Minn. — Hankinson 6 (Anderson, Clymer), 10:26. Minn. — Spehar 1 (Woog, Hankinson), 11:30. UND — Bull 2 (unassisted), 12:11. UND — Henderson 2 (Panzer, D. Hoogsteen), 17:55. UND — Calder 1 (Kallay), 18:15.