GRAND FORKS, N.D. — When the Golden Gophers and Fighting Sioux go at it, theres no predicting how the game will turn out.
A scoreless defensive struggle through two periods became a Wild West shootout in the third period that North Dakota won 4-2.
The Sioux relied on Jean-Philippe Lamoureuxs goaltending and four goals from four different players in the third period to down the Gophers in front of 11, 834 fans at Ralph Engelstad Arena.
They showed good composure all the way through and found a way to go out and get the job done, UND coach Dave Hakstol said of his teams performance.
In the end, the difference was Lamoureuxs goaltending.
Hes a really good goalie, said Gopher junior forward Blake Wheeler. We knew coming in that we had to get bodies in front of him. We werent trying to score the prettiest goals in the world. Our shot total shows what we were trying to do. He played a great game for them.
In the first two periods, the two teams played to a scoreless tie. The Gophers outshot the Sioux 26-12 through two periods, but couldnt get the puck past Lamoureux.
We jumped on them early, said Minnesota sophomore forward Ryan Flynn. If wed been able to pop in a goal in the first or second period, it might have been a different story.
UND looked like a different team in third period, outshooting Minnesota 18-13 in a see-saw battle.
Minnesota executed their game plan very well, Lamoureux said. We could only do what we could do, and that was to come out and have a good third period.
Sioux junior forward Matt Watkins notched the game-winner at the 16:23 in the third to give UND a 3-2 lead. Just 32 seconds later, freshman Brad Malone scored the first goal of his college career to give UND an insurmountable two goal lead.
Sophomore defenseman Chay Genoway, returning to the lineup after missing three games with a leg injury, gave UND the lead at 1:37 of the third period. His slap shot from the top of the right circle beat goalie Jeff Frazee over the shoulder.
We were able to score one goal that got some momentum going, got the energy in the building going and we were able to carry that through, Hakstol said.
Minnesota tied it up at 7:10 with a power play goal by Wheeler, whose shot from the slot caught the inside far corner. The Sioux went up 2-1 when senior Rylan Kaip pounced on a puck in the slot and fired it in, beating Frazee high glove side.
The Gophers responded with their second power play of the game to tie it 2-2 at the 14:58 mark. Sophomore Ryan Flynn tipped in a perfect centering pass from Kyle Okposo, giving the Gophers new life.
But Watkins snuffed out Minnesotas momentum when his sharp-angled shot from near the bottom of the right circle somehow squeezed through on Frazees short side. Malones shot from the slot with Frazee out of position sealed the victory.
We tied it up 1-1 and got a lot of life on our bench, Wheeler said. 2-2, we got a lot of life again, and then, a couple of bad breaks. We just couldnt get the third one to go.
It can be a back-breaker to get the lead, take a penalty and give it up, Lamoureux said. But the guys showed tremendous composure to come out and get two late (goals) there.
Minnesota coach Don Lucia pulled Frazee for the final 1:28 of the game, but Lamoureux made two more big saves and UND held on for the 4-2 win.
Hakstol credited UNDs success to Lamoureux and his teams ability to get through the slow start.
For us, tonight Phil Lamoureux was the key, he said. To the credit of the guys in front of him, they worked their way out of it in the third period and came up with two points.
The Gophers fall to 8-8-1 overall and 4-7-0 in the WCHA. The Sioux improve to 8-5-1 overall and 6-5-0 in league play. The two teams will meet at 7:05 p.m. Saturday at Engelstad Arena for the second game of the series.