MINNEAPOLIS — Saturday night at Mariucci Arena, North Dakota took an early lead, watched Minnesota rally for three straight goals, and then turned on the afterburners for five unanswered goals in a 7-3 win that completed a stunning weekend sweep of the No. 1 Golden Gophers.
Down 3-2 after the Gophers’ outburst, UND’s run started with 18:47 left in the first period on a strange shorthanded goal by Robbie Bina that tied the game at 3.
With Minnesota skating up a man, Bina cleared the puck down the ice from the North Dakota goal line. It bounced three times, the last over the pad of Gopher netminder Jeff Frazee as he went down to cover his five-hole.
“I guess when they go in, they go in,” remarked Bina about his 185 foot goal. “I was just going off for a change and threw it down the ice. I was tired. I looked up and it went in.”
Frazee finished out the period, but was relieved by Kellen Briggs to start the second, and the first half of that period calmed down before the Sioux erupted for two goals.
North Dakota’s Ryan Duncan scored his second of the game on a low-angle shot at 11:29 to beat Briggs over the glove side on the power play.
“We haven’t had the bounces this season,” said Duncan. “We had the hockey gods on our side tonight.”
Just 24 seconds later, Erik Fabian scored on a wraparound as Minnesota defenseman Derek Peltier bumped Briggs before he could move over to the far side to cover the post.
“This segment was the clincher,” said Minnesota coach Don Lucia.
T.J. Oshie added the Sioux’s fourth goal of the run in the third period on the power play, putting the game out of reach. The final goal came on a 2-on-2 off the stick of Jonathan Toews.
The early part of the game had belonged to North Dakota, as it took Minnesota nine minutes to get its first shot on goal. Meanwhile, the Fighting Sioux kept Frazee busy with two goals on six shots.
The first goal of the game came on the transition as Darcy Zajac picked the puck up at the Gopher blue line and skated in 2-on-1. He took a quick snapper to beat Frazee on the stick side.
Toews set up the second goal as he kept the puck in the Minnesota zone and found Duncan on the goal line. Duncan shot a low-angle laser to the far corner before Frazee could get over to cut down the angle.
North Dakota led 2-0 eight minutes into the game and had outshot the Gophers 6-0. Then came a swarm of penalties and power plays that ignited the Gopher offense.
Ten straight shots and three goals later, Minnesota was in the lead 3-2 and held a 10-6 edge in shots.
The first Gopher goal came on a blueline blast from Erik Johnson while the Gophers enjoyed a two-man advantage at the halfway point of the period.
Minnesota’s Stoa and Howe then put the Gophers ahead with tip-in goals on the power play a minute and 24 seconds apart, but Bina’s shorthander was next, presaging what turned into a blowout.
It was Minnesota’s fourth loss in six games and will undoubtedly drop the Gophers in the national polls.
“We had our chances. When things are not going your way, your puck luck, unlucky things seem to multiply,” said Lucia of his team’s slide.
On the flip side, the Sioux are one of the hottest teams in the country since the Christmas break, going 8-1-1 in their last 10 games after starting a disappointing 7-10-1.
“Little things make the difference. Instead of a bounce going against us, they are going for us,” said North Dakota coach Dave Hakstol. “We are relaxed, no longer gripping tight on our sticks.”
Next weekend Minnesota will travel to Alaska-Anchorage. North Dakota has the week off before playing host to Minnesota State.