Role reversal plays part in U sweep

by Michael Rand

After Saturday night’s hockey game, in which Minnesota defeated North Dakota 10-6 to complete a sweep of the previously undefeated Sioux, Gophers players confirmed what most people expected: Revenge played a role in the series.
Two years ago North Dakota hosted a 6-0 Minnesota team and sent the Gophers home with a tie and a loss.
UND ended Minnesota’s 19-game unbeaten streak last season on Feb. 2 with an 8-2 win, and provided the exclamation point a night later with a 7-5 win to complete the sweep.
“I don’t know how much we thought about it, but it did hurt last year when they broke our streak,” said Gophers co-captain Casey Hankinson. “We’re not the friendliest folk with them, so we wanted to beat them pretty bad.”
This weekend the roles were reversed from two years ago as the Sioux started the season with six consecutive wins.
As the seconds ticked off the clock in the waning moments of both games, an “overrated” chant began in the student section of Mariucci Arena — the same chant that echoed throughout both Gophers losses last year at North Dakota.
After deliberating for a couple of seconds on how to phrase his views mildly, Gophers sophomore Wyatt Smith said, “There’s definitely some bad blood between us after last year.”
Freshmen find the net
Gophers freshmen Dave Spehar and Mike Lyons scored their first collegiate goals in Saturday night’s game.
Lyons’ second period goal gave Minnesota a 6-2 lead, and Spehar notched the Gophers 10th goal of the game midway through the third period.
Both players were excited, but Spehar, who scored 171 goals in his high school career at Duluth East, was particularly relieved to get number one as a Gopher.
“I don’t know how important it was [to the game], but it sure felt good to get the first one,” Spehar said.
Co-captain Casey Hankinson added, “He’s used to scoring about seven goals a game, and to not have one in seven games, I know there was some pressure on him.”
Although the outcome of the game was not in doubt when Spehar scored — the goal made it 10-3 — the freshman got a standing ovation from the Mariucci Arena crowd.
The enthusiasm of Minnesota players about sweeping North Dakota was tempered by the four third-period goals it allowed on Saturday night.
“It was kind of up and down in the locker room,” sophomore Wyatt Smith said. “We gave up four goals in the third period, and we can’t be doing that. If it was a close game, we would have lost.”
The four-goal period also spoiled what had been a stellar weekend for goalie Steve DeBus.
“We kind of let Stevie hang out by himself, and we feel bad about that,” Hankinson said.
Slap shots
ù Hankinson was named WCHA Offensive Player of the Week for scoring four goals and adding three assists this weekend.
ù The Gophers are now ranked fourth in the WMEB Radio Media Poll in front of North Dakota, which dropped one spot to fifth. Michigan is still ranked No. 1 and Colorado College is sixth. St. Cloud State and Wisconsin both received votes.