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College Hockey:
Minnesota sweeps North Dakota for first time in nearly six years

— Goals by Nick Larson and Kyle Rau in the final 6:04 of the third period erased a one-goal deficit and lifted No. 5 Minnesota to a 3-2 win over No. 15 North Dakota on Saturday in front of the tenth-largest crowd (10,234 paid) in Mariucci Arena history.

The win gives the Gophers a series sweep over the Fighting Sioux.

Nick Bjugstad scored for the second straight night and added an assist while Zach Budish chipped in a pair of assists.

Minnesota (9-1-0, 6-0-0 WCHA) is off to its best start since the 2006-07 season when the Gophers started the year 19-1-3. North Dakota (3-6-1, 1-5 WCHA), conversely, is off to its worst conference start since the Sioux lost nine of 10 to open the 1974-75 conference schedule.

Trailing 2-1 late in the third period, Minnesota’s Travis Boyd fed Larson down low who swatted the puck under Sioux goaltender Aaron Dell to knot the score at 2-2. The goal was the second of the weekend for Minnesota’s fourth line.

“We created some good chances and we kept telling ourselves ‘just keep going to the net, keep making plays, and sooner or later it’s going to go in’,” said Larson.

“I thought our fourth line gave us good energy all weekend long,” said Gophers coach Don Lucia. “They scored the huge goal on Friday night, (Tom) Serratore’s goal, and obviously getting that tying goal to make it 2-2 is huge with six minutes to go.

“If we got into overtime, that was probably one of the three lines we were going to use tonight.”

But Rau and his linemates made that a moot point.

With under a minute to go, Bjugstad shot the puck into traffic in front of Dell where Rau managed to corral Zach Budish’s rebound and lift the puck over the sprawled Sioux goalie with just 45.8 seconds showing on the clock.

The goal tied Rau, named national rookie of the month for October, with Bjugstad for the team goal-scoring lead with eight.

“It was an unbelievable feeling,” said Rau of his winning goal. “We’ve got a lot of confidence right now and that adds to it, which is good.”

“That’s his history,” said Lucia of Rau. “Great players make great plays at critical moments of games and he’s done that all his life.”

Dell gave his team a chance to win for the second night in a row, but was denied a win despite making 39 saves including 15 on Minnesota power plays. North Dakota held Minnesota’s nation-leading power-play unit to one goal on 14 combined opportunities in the two games this weekend.

A night after shutting out the Sioux, 2-0, Minnesota goaltender Kent Patterson made just 17 saves, but more than a few were critical. Patterson waited until late in the game to make his best save of the weekend, stopping Brock Nelson at the doorstep as he attempted to bury a Ben Blood pass to finish a UND three-on-one with 3:27 to play in a tie game.

“He didn’t have to make a lot of saves, but he had to make some timely saves,” said Lucia. “It’s a save like that that gives you a chance to win at the end.”

Minnesota got on the board first as Bjugstad scored his second of the series and eighth of the season at 7:09 of the opening period batting in a rebound Dell was unable to control.

But just 2:37 later, with Seth Ambroz serving an interference penalty, the Sioux struck back with their first goal of the weekend. Nelson rifled a wrist shot from the right circle over Patterson’s left shoulder only eight seconds into the power play.

The Gophers dominated the first period everywhere, but the scoreboard in outshooting the Sioux, 19-5.

Near the end of a second-period Minnesota five-on-three advantage, Jake Hansen shoved Blood behind Dell and into the UND net, drawing an interference penalty at 8:18.

On the ensuing power play, Rocco Grimaldi, the WCHA’s preseason rookie of the year, recorded his first career goal, beating Patterson with a wrist shot from the high slot at 8:39 to give the Sioux their only lead of the series.

The sweep is Minnesota’s first over North Dakota since a pair of 4-3 wins at Ralph Engelstad Arena on Dec. 9-10, 2005, and the first regular-season home sweep over the Sioux since 1996-97. The win raises the Gophers’ record in the all-time series with the Sioux to 142-128-14, including 78-52-6 at home.

“It was a great finishing touch to a great weekend,” said Larson. “We were able to battle back there and we had faith the whole time. That’s what we practice hard for, we were ready for it, and Kyle came up huge for us.”

North Dakota is idle next week before traveling to Bemidji for a Saturday-Sunday series with the Beavers Nov. 19-20. Minnesota is back on the road next week for a pair of 7:00 pm CST games Nov. 11-12 at Wisconsin.

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  • Kqcap

    Hard fought weekend and great play by both teams. Hard to believe the Sioux’s record is as bad as it is watching the way they played. How the hell is dells save percentage so bad entering the weekend? He played really well. Long season still ahead and the Sioux will start making their way back up the ladder, but it’s not breaking my heart to see them struggle the way we did the last few years. Und isn’t immune to struggling after losing a lot of talent. But they are young and will be better before this year is over. Great sweep for the gophers! Do we finally get some respect now? Can we quit saying “but we haven’t played anyone yet?”. We are a good team…… End of discussion.

    • Arcticman

      Painful for me to say however the Sioux were beaten by a better team that wanted it more.  The Gophers continually beat the Sioux to the puck.  Good hockey on both sides.  Great goaltending on both sides.  Bjugstad is a horse and was the difference.  Let’s see if the Sioux put together the typical Hackstol second half because it looks like they are going to need it this year.

    • chickenstrip6

      I don’t see why it was even a question in the first place.  We swept the reigning national champions on their home ice.  I’d say that was a win against a significant team?

  • SUEH8TER

    SWEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!!!!  HEAD BACK ACROSS THE BOARDER WITH YOUR TAILS BETWEEN YOUR LEGS!!  I GUESS YOU SUE FANS WERE RIGHT ABOUT SOMETHING, WE HAVE NOT PLAYED ANYBODY YET.  WE CONTINUE TO BEAT UP ON THE BOTTOM FEEDERS!! 

    • Arcticman

      The caps lock key is located just above the shift key on the left side of the keyboard moron.  Nice to see your entire existence is consumed by your hatred for one team rather that the appreciation for good hockey.

    • Gopher Fan

      Ya cause this weekend proved worthless and the Sioux are not worthy of the Gophers right!

  • SUEH8TER

    I SEE YOUR SUPER FRESHMAN, RICKI RICHARO, OR WHAT EVER HIS NAME IS, PLAYED LAST NIGHT.  GOT HIS FIRST GOAL.  BOY IS HE REALLY LIGHTING THE LAMP.  HOW MANY DOES RAU HAVE ALREADY???  HAVE A LONG YEAR SUZIES, YOU DESERVE IT!!!!!!!!!!

    • Arcticman

      He’s played all of three games because of injury.

      • Phoenixfyre1313

        Grimaldi will score, the shot he beat Patterson was a very good shot.  North Dakota, just needs more punch in their lineup.   First line is strong, but it drops off alot after that.  Dell played great.  I am sure that they will get their share of wins before the season is over.

    • nogofer

      Suehater?  What grade are you in?

      • SUEH8TER

        WHAT GRADE ARE YOU IN???

        • nogofer

          You answered me, buh bye…

        • Guest

          SUE FAG IS STILL IN FIRTH GRADE BY THE LOOKS OF IT!   OH I MEAN 5th    THATS EASIER TO SPELL

  • BoninBjugstad

    Bjugstad is twice the player he was last year, should be a Hobey hopeful at year’s end.

  • SiouxRrebuilding

    Comments like the ones from the Gophers boosters make it both understandable and easy to not like the Gophers.

    Any reason given for Grimmaldi not playing Friday evening?

    While Bjustad is a good player, he inexplicably did whiff at least twice on Friday night.  He has potential.  Rau is the best Gopher player I saw all weekend.  We will probably be seeing them both for the last season as Gophers.  Lucia better do it this year because he is going to lose a lot of players at the end of the season.

    • SUEH8TER

      YOU ONLY HOPE HE LOSES A LOT OF PLAYERS AFTER THIS YEAR.  DON’T COUNT ON IT!

      • nogofer

        7 Seniors, and one of those is K Patterson…  Can you count?  7… 

        And 7>5…

        • Twells306

          Only 4 seniors are in the lineup…only 4 ! 

          • nogofer

            Per USCHO, you have 7 on the team… 

            AND 7 TITLES IS GREATER THAN ALL MN COMBINED!!!

          • Phoenixfyre1313

            Yes, 7 seniors, but 4 play.  1 is a goalie who has never played a game.  1 is a forward who hasn’t played since February of last year and one is a forward who has only played in two games this year, so I wouldn’t consider them a big loss from the current roster.  The biggest losses will be Patterson, Hanson and Mattson.  Larson is good, but 4th line.  Do your homework before you comment.  Yes, 7 titles are more than 5, but we are talking this year.   I could ask you how many back to backs you got, but it doesn’t matter does it?

          • nogofer

            What trophy do you get for b to b? That’s what I thought.  End of that discussion…
            If Patterson goes down you can phone in your losses…
            I realize cheering for the leading team is foreign to MN fans, but try showing a bit of class.  Your endless trashing of the Sioux only serves to reinforce the image of gofer fans as jealous wannabes.  I understand… 

          • WCHA Fan

            As a Goof and Sue hater, I can honestly say that both fans lack class when speaking about the other.  As nogofer liked to point out, ND’s 7 titles to the state of MN’s 6, I’ll give the classless title to ND by one as well. 

            Also, fun fact, if you add up the number of men’s “Big 4″ (Football, Basketball, Baseball and Hockey) sport titles (Div IA and Professional) in MN vs ND, the final number would look something like this…

            UND Hockey – 7

            Total – 7

            U of MN Hockey – 5
            U of MN Football – 6
            U of MN Basketball – 2
            U of MN Duluth Hockey – 1
            Minnesota Vikings – 1
            Minnesota Twins – 2
            Minnesota Lakers – 7

            Total – 24

            Not sure MN fans are jealous of much…

          • nogofer

            This is a hockey website, but if we bring in other factors let us consider ND’s budget surplus, hundreds of years use of oil in the oil sands, massive food production, great hunting, virtually no crime when compared to Murderapolis…  Bragging up the Vikes and Twinks shows your desperation.

          • Scott Reed

            wow, are you serious? the vikings have never won the superbowl…lol and ND doesn’t have any prefessional teams. Or a D1 A football team, or a D1A basketball team, so apples to apples its 7-7 and thats UND vs the whole state of MN…  its hard to take anything you say serious on any of these topics, you need to learn how to think and debate… and stay on topic.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IBX3ZLT5XKNZDOL2YZHPVX27VI STEVEN P

      Bjugstad,probably. Rau,highly unlikely.

      • Phoenixfyre1313

        Both Rau and Bjugstad are property of the Florida Panthers, which have a history of *not* plucking kids out of college early.  Look for both to stay a minimum of three years.

  • Parker

    This is the best Gophers team I’ve seen in some time. Top two lines are dynamite (Haula, Warning, Hansen; Bjugstad, Rau, Budish). The fourth line played particularly well on Saturday (Boyd, Larson, Serratore). Condon looks good, too. 

    Schmidt and Marshall are very shifty, excellent puckhandlers. Schmidt has a heavy shot for a smaller defenseman. 

    With Patterson playing as well as he is, you have to think Minnesota is a top 3 team in the country.

    North Dakota will rebound. They are always tough. Ben Blood is fantastic, despite taking a few dumb penalties. Forbort should have been better. Knight was good. Kristo looks lost out there. Should be playing better, but seems to lack leadership — which seems to be a problem for the Sioux.

    • WCHAforever

      They could probably use a better captain than lamoureux. He doesnt really do much to pump up the team

  • Mesteveo

    great hockey weekend.. Love the rivalry. No need to talk Sh** after the sweep. Stay classy Minnesota. Sioux wii be a different team in January. Go Gophs!

    • Jeffbridges

      I agree – the sweep says it all!  The Sioux are always good in the 2nd half, but the Gophers usually start slow too.  We’ll see if they can keep winning. Go Gophers, keep up the great play!

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