Minnesota collapses in third, loses to UND

The Gophers blew a three-goal lead when they gave up five goals in the third period and lost 6-3.

Minnesota collapses in third, loses to UND

Dane Mizutani

 

Saying the Gophers couldn’t finish Friday night against North Dakota would be putting it lightly.

Minnesota looked like a well-oiled machine through the first 30 minutes of its WCHA tournament semifinal but fell apart in the third period.

UND started slow with just 11 shots on goal through the first two periods but scored five goals in the final frame to stun Minnesota with a 6-3 shellacking.

“I think our inexperience in this environment showed a little bit tonight,” Minnesota head coach Don Lucia said. “We were playing to win, and sometimes you get in that situation and all of a sudden, you’re playing not to lose, and that doesn’t work.”

The Gophers were clearly the aggressor in the first period and came out with energy the Sioux could not match.

Kyle Rau gave Minnesota a 1-0 lead with a spectacular diving effort to beat goaltender Aaron Dell.

Jake Hansen and Zach Budish followed Rau’s lead and scored in the second period to widen the gap.

“I thought that was some of the best hockey we’ve played in the first half of a game,” Hansen said. “We jumped out to that 3-0 lead, and I think we got a little relaxed with it.”

Trailing by three goals and with the game clearly slipping away, UND head coach Dave Hakstol called a timeout with 5:53 left in the second period in attempt to shift the momentum.

It worked.

After the game, Hakstol said he didn’t say anything special during the timeout, but the Sioux looked like a different team after.

“We were pretty much getting dominated in every aspect of the game,” UND senior captain Mario Lamoureux said. “We needed to get some pucks to the net and once we started to do that, the momentum came our way, and we just kept rolling with it.”

The Sioux struck quickly out of the timeout as Derek Forbort beat Kent Patterson with a shot from the point to narrow the gap to 3-1.

UND continued its momentum on the shifts subsequent to the goal, but Minnesota was able to withstand the run.

“They got that first [goal] … and I think we we’re just scared of losing,” Hansen said. “We just weren’t playing like we were in the first half of the game.”

In the third period, the Sioux made another run, and this time the Gophers couldn’t respond.

UND exploded for five goals in the final frame and seized control of the game.

“In the third period we played horrible,” Hansen said. “They just took the momentum and kept rolling with it.”

Michael Parks scored to cut Minnesota’s lead in half, and Brock Nelson scored 30 seconds later to tie the game at 3-3.

Unlike Hakstol, Lucia did not call a timeout to try and stymie UND’s momentum. He said postgame Friday that he didn’t think a timeout would have done any good.

“We just couldn’t get it back going again,” Lucia said. “There was nobody that took charge on the rink for us tonight. We talked to the guys about continuing to play, but they didn’t play.”

Lamoureux scored the game-winning goal at 9:42 into the third period.

Then the floodgates opened.

Corban Knight got into the scoring action, and Lamoureux tacked on another goal to stretch the score to 6-3.

“We can learn from this because at this time of the year, you’ve got to be able to take a punch,” Lucia said. “We got punched, and all of a sudden the guys got tentative.”

Gophers fans started to head for the exits during UND’s run and by the end of the game, an announced crowd of 16,738 fans was reduced to almost entirely green jerseys.

“It was a tale of two worlds tonight,” Hakstol said Friday. “We had no gas in the tank in the first 30 minutes. [In the second period] one good thing happened, and that gave us a chance.”

Minnesota and UND will return to the Xcel Energy Center next weekend for the NCAA Regional.

The Gophers are set to battle Boston University next Saturday, and UND will matchup against Western Michigan.

Should both Minnesota and UND win in those matchups, the teams will faceoff one last time with a berth to the Frozen Four on the line.