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College Hockey:
Gophers snap Sioux unbeaten streak with 3-2 win

Sacchetti's power-play goal wins it for Minnesota

— North Dakota became the latest highly ranked team to discover that Minnesota is better than its record.

Playing before a raucous sellout crowd of 11,844 at Ralph Engelstad Arena, the Gophers used a third period power-play goal by Nico Sacchetti and solid goaltending from Kent Patterson (35 saves) to defeat the second-ranked Fighting Sioux 3-2. UND joins Michigan and Minnesota-Duluth on the list of top-ranked teams the Gophers have beaten this season.

“We look forward to it all week, especially when we know we’re coming here where everybody doesn’t like us,” Patterson said of the Sioux-Gopher rivalry, which proved as intense as ever. “It’s just exciting to come in here, and especially to take two points away from them.”

The loss snapped UND’s nine-game unbeaten streak. The Sioux, 16-6-2 overall (11-4-0 WCHA) dropped into a first-place tie with UMD in league standings. Minnesota, 10-8-3 overall (7-6-2 WCHA) moved into a fifth-place tie with Colorado College.

“The guys battled,” said Minnesota head coach Don Lucia. “If you’re going to win up here, you’ve got play like that.”

Minnesota got the start it wanted, jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the opening stanza. UND looked sharp on its first power play of the game, pelting Patterson with shot after shot, but the junior netminder came up big for the Gophers.

At 11:22, freshman center Nick Bjugstad created a turnover along the left boards that junior forward Nick Larson pounced on. He made a short pass back to senior forward Mike Hoeffel in the slot who rifled a quick wrister past Sioux goalie Aaron Dell at 11:22 to give Minnesota a 1-0 lead.

When UND forward Brett Hextall took his second penalty of the period, it opened the door for the Gophers, who needed just 37 seconds to capitalize. When Dell couldn’t control a shot from the point by freshman Erik Haula, junior forward Jake Hansen stuffed in the rebound to give Minnesota a 2-0 lead at 15:51.

“We didn’t play good at the drop of the puck tonight,” said UND head coach Dave Hakstol. “It cost us two points. Minnesota played well, they played hard. We know they’re a good team. There’s nothing we learned about the WCHA tonight. Maybe we got a bit of a reminder in the first 20 minutes.”

For the Gophers, getting the early lead proved to be the key.

“Being able to score first and then get that power play goal so you can play with a 2-0 lead, the game becomes different,” Lucia said. “We were able to keep the crowd out of the game for a pretty extended period of time.”

The Gophers flirted with disaster by putting UND on the power play, and in the second period, they paid for it. Off another scramble in front of the net, senior center Brad Malone put in the rebound off his own shot over a pile of bodies to make it a 2-1 game at 13:54.

The Sioux went on the power play again for the third straight time, but the Gophers again dodged a bullet. A shot by Matt Frattin—the nation’s leading goal scorer—from high in the slot went off the post, and Evan Trupp fanned on his attempt to put the rebound into an open net.

With the Gophers on the power play for the last 1:28 of the period, Malone hammered Minnesota defenseman Kevin Wehrs into the boards in the same corner of the UND zone that Frattin leveled him last March 14 during the playoffs. No penalty was called. The play caused pushing and shoving as the teams headed off the ice, but tempers flared and a bench-clearing melee broke out.

The third period began with four Gophers and four Sioux in the penalty boxes. Out of the fracas at the end of the second period, UND received 1:28 of power play time. They cashed in when forward Jason Gregoire knocked in Hextall’s cross-crease pass to knot the score 2-2 at 1:31 mark.

Minnesota took advantage of the first of three consecutive UND penalties to take a 3-2 lead. Fourth line forward Sacchetti, who normally doesn’t play on the Gophers’ power play unit, roofed the rebound off Aaron Ness’ shot from the point over Dell for the game winner at 4:45.

With 1:14 left in the game, UND called timeout and pulled Dell for an extra attacker. But Patterson and the Gophers prevented the Sioux from getting any quality scoring chances and held on for the 3-2 win.

“It’s great for Nico to step up for the team like that and put us up 3-2,” Patterson said. “It’s even better that our whole team was committed to keep that lead all the way to the end.”

Playing his first game back after being out six weeks with an injury, Gregoire said, “Tomorrow, we just got to have a better first couple shifts, a better first period to get them (the Gophers) on their heels; definitely more physical within our limits and not taking penalties.”

Minnesota and UND will meet at 7:05 p.m. Saturday at Engelstad Arena for the second game of the series.

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  • Adam

    it was a fairly officiated game except for that melee, how und got a powerplay out of that after starting it is beyond me lol. like i said though, other than that it was a well officiated game

  • ryan53d

    why does the article say stunned north dakota?????? i mean cmon its a hated wcha rival, these teams always play well against each other no matter what their record is…

    • je

      no doubt. nothing like a little sensationalism.

  • jml2009

    if you don’t think that was boarding, you don’t know the rules. both teams got away with some stuff, but that was pretty blatant. he hit him into the boards from 2 feet away. which constitutes boarding. and I don’t blame Wehrs for being irate. that hit that Frattin put on him last year that wasn’t called should’ve had Frattin out of the game. Malone may be one of the biggest goons in college hockey.

  • ChaChiA

    Lets see – malone’s feet were not moving, his shoulders were down, hid elbows were down, his stick was down, whereas Wehrs had posession AND control of the puck. The only way for this to have been any more clean and legitimate was for Malone to have stopped, patted Wehrs on the head, and let him skate on by. Boarding is reserved for hits that are flagrant into the boards where no attempt was made to otherwise play the puck. The correct call was the non-call that was made.

    • Phoenixfyre1313

      Feet not moving, shoulders down, elbows and stick down has no bearing on boarding calls. next time you make a comment look up the definition of boarding because your ignorance is showing.

  • Anonymous

    Susan got caught snoozin’. Too busy reading their press clippings,and lost at the Excel Wannabe Center.

  • Righty

    Patterson won that game. If he doesn’t play the best game of his career that easy a 4 or 5 goal game. Wehrs is going to be waving a white flag tonight when he gets lit up all night like last night. I wonder why that garbage captain barriball didn’t come to the rescue.

  • Righty

    Great picture to go with the article. If the people at this website would take a few more minutes to get a picture from the actual game. Who knows which game that picture is from. The Sioux wore white last night.

  • Goldy

    Dear Sue,

    Aside from skating like pooh, fat drunk and stupid is no way to go through life.
    Perhaps Sue fans ought to stop spending their food stamps on ho hos and beer and eat some veggies.

    Love, Goldy

  • GopherFan

    oviously goldengopher1975 has a slanted view of the game, there where just as many cheap shot taken by the gophers that where not called. Exiting game to watch overall.

  • je

    i’m a gopher fan. i thought it was called evenly. they got the calls in the 2nd. we got the calls in the 3rd. overall, it was even. so quityerb!tchin – you sound like a whiny kid who didn’t get his way.

  • Kris Koppleman

    Yes, perhaps your right, but when you overtly run a guy into the boards, you are going to incur the wrath of your opposition and the referees. The Sioux are and have always been cheap-shot artists. Go Gophers.

  • je

    here, here…. completely agree!!! these are the kinds of fans that give gopher fans bad reputations — reps like being whiny and arrogant fans. can’t stand all these ‘homers’ takes on any and all controversial calls/plays in games that don’t go in the gopher’s favor. as if we never get any breaks. please…

  • Goalie Fan

    The more you talk the more you just sound like an idiot! Well played game on both parts and the gophs take just as many if not more cheap shots as any team in the ncaa… Sioux win big tonight, maybe 5-1

  • je

    that was a clean hit. wehrs had his head up, nodak guy’s hands were down. he got leveled is all.

  • sioux guy

    Dont confuse above average ability to being a goon. The Sioux have a very well oiled college hockey program that includes using the Juniors and drawing the best players available and getting them NHL ready. The hit was borderline boarding. But to have Wehrs get up and whine like the b-1-t-c-h he is is very typical of the gophers. In ANY officiated game there will be some marginal calls made and some missed. Deal with it.

    They are local pretty boys on the ice to draw fans. Their program couldnt give a rip about winning. For example Aaron Ness wouldnt skate with UND until this year, and that is if he makes the program.

  • 2002

    Actually it was boarding

  • je

    imo, it was a clean hard hit. sure, i could maybe buy a boarding. but it was borderline at best. my point was more specifically in response to previous posts above — in response to all the whining about calls. it was a well officiated game.

  • Anonymous

    Its called finishing a check. If malone hadn’t done so and just hit him it would have been boarding but he drove him into the boards making it a huge hit.

  • jml2009

    Again, how would you like have the hit from Frattin happen to you like it did to Wehrs last year and then have this happen this year with no call? You’d be pretty irked too. And I really hope you’re not serious about your “their program couldnt give a rip about winning.” If so, you’re not a real hockey fan, or it’s just that great UND education coming through. The Gophers won 2 national championships in the last decade. That’s more than UND can show. We also bring in top 5 recruiting classes year after year, stocked with NHL draft picks,many of whom leave early. so don’t give me that bull. You keep sitting on that high horse that keeps hacking and choking when it matters…

  • jml2009

    Yeah, that’s why Malone was against Wehrs as he hit the boards… Wehrs flew backwards and smashed his head on the boards. Malone wasn’t near the boards. That’s boarding.

  • sioux guy

    No, the Gophers play for the fans. They dont play to win.

    Right now they have 6 players that came straight from HS to the program. They have 2 D that are 5-9, and another (Ness who is less than 170lbs).

    Why not do what EVERY other team does and send these kids to a post HS program before suiting up against the toughest division in college hockey. Why not? I’ll answer that. To put FANS in THE STANDS. Period.

    I mean for gods sake, send Bjugstad to the USHL for a year and let him learn how to take a faceoff. Give him a chance for god’s sake.