Misery at Mariucci for Sioux after Gopher SweepThe good news for the UND men’s hockey team is that an off week is coming up and it will give the team a chance to regain some of its health. The bad news is that the sour taste left in their mouths Saturday night will have an extra week to linger.
By: Brad Elliott Schlossman, grandforkshearld.com
MINNEAPOLIS — The good news for the UND men’s hockey team is that an off week is coming up and it will give the team a chance to regain some of its health.
The bad news is that the sour taste left in their mouths Saturday night will have an extra week to linger.
The University of Minnesota scored two goals in the final 6 minutes, 4 seconds to complete a come-from-behind 3-2 victory over UND in front of 10,234 fans in Mariucci Arena, finishing off a series sweep.
Nick Larson tied the game when he jumped on a loose puck in the crease at the 13:56 mark and freshman Kyle Rau did the same thing with just 45 seconds left in the game.
When the final buzzer sounded, the Gophers piled on goaltender Kent Patterson behind the net in front of a buzzing arena that hadn’t witnessed a Minnesota sweep of its rival in 10 years.
The win bumped Minnesota’s record to 9-1 overall and 6-0 in Western Collegiate Hockey Association. The Sioux, meanwhile, dropped to 3-6-1 overall and 1-5 in league play, having been swept in both Madison, Wis., and Minneapolis.
“It’s extremely tough,” Sioux forward Rocco Grimaldi said. “I don’t know what to say. It’s especially tough when it’s your rival. It’s especially tough when you’re right there at the end.”
UND was outshot badly by Minnesota in the first two periods — a 31-11 advantage for the Gophers — but the Sioux actually led thanks to great goaltending by Aaron Dell and a big-time goal by Grimaldi, who played after sitting out the series opener with an injury.
But the Gophers capitalized on a couple of chances in the third to send the Sioux to a second straight loss. UND now has just one win in its last seven games.
“It’s hard to take,” UND coach Dave Hakstol said. “But it’s what you do from here.”
Hakstol said the first period was an important one for the Sioux to get through as the Gophers used back-to-back power plays to generate momentum and a 19-5 shot advantage.
The Gophers scored the first goal for the ninth time in 10 games when Justin Holl threw a puck into the slot area and Nick Bjugstad slid it under Dell after Zach Budish and Rau each took whacks at it. The even-strength goal came at 7:09.
UND evened it just 2:37 later, when Brock Nelson collected a puck in the right circle and sniped it high over Kent Patterson’s glove for a power-play goal at 9:46.
“I thought we had to get through the first period,” Hakstol said. “There was a lot of rubber at our net. We took two penalties in a row and I kind of had a feeling that was the period we had to get through. We had great goaltending and a lot of good, hard-nosed play. From there, it was a heck of a hockey game.”
Despite getting outshot again in the second, UND took the lead on Grimaldi’s first-career goal. The freshman entered the zone one-on-two, zipped across the slot to cross-up the defenders, then ripped a snap shot high over Patterson’s glove at 8:39.
“I felt better today than I did yesterday,” said Grimaldi, who has missed six games this season due to a lower-body injury. “I continue to get better every day, which is a good thing.”
Gopher goalie Kent Patterson made 17 saves — the biggest on a doorstep chance by Corban Knight with about three minutes left. That kept the game tied and the Gophers went on to win soon after that.
The Sioux will take some days off and they head to Bemidji in two weeks.
“(The week off) will help,” Hakstol said. “We’ve got a lot of guys grinding through some tough situations. We’ve got some guys out of the lineup. I don’t know if (Brendan) O’Donnell back or not, but other than that, we should be healthier in 10 days than we are now.”
Notes: UND was held to 19 shots on goal — its lowest total since a 5-1 win over Princeton in the 2008 Midwest Regional. . . Taylor Dickin, who played on the third line Friday, was a scratch on Saturday. . . Minnesota went with the same lineup. . . The Sioux wore their black jerseys and lost for a second straight time in them. They had a 24-game unbeaten streak in a four-year span with them prior to the losses at Wisconsin and Minnesota.
Key play: Kyle Rau’s game-winning goal with 45 seconds left in regulation.
Key player: Nick Bjugstad, goal, assist.