ST. PAUL, Minn. — With his team behind 3-0 on the scoreboard and 23-4 on the shot chart with 5:53 to play in the second period, North Dakota coach Dave Hakstol called a timeout and gathered his troops.
Although Hakstol will say otherwise, that one moment in time ushered in an extraordinary shift in momentum that will be enshrined in Final Five lore for eternity.
In a remarkable turn of events, the Fighting Sioux erased a 3-0 Minnesota second-period lead and stormed back with five third-period goals for a 6-3 win over the top-seeded Gophers before 16,738 stunned spectators at Xcel Energy Center on Friday night.
“There was nothing special said at all,” Hakstol said of the timeout. “It was a matter of we had tired bodies on the ice and we’re going to do what we have to do to get through this point in the game and survive it.
“Regardless of the outcome of the score, to be able to turn the energy around, I think, is the big credit to our players.”
North Dakota advances to Saturday’s Final Five title game where the Denver Pioneers, double overtime winners over Minnesota-Duluth in the early semifinal, await them.
Trailing 3-1 entering the third period, the Sioux rallied with three goals in a 4:11 span leading up to the midway point of the period to take its first lead of the night on Mario Lamoureux’s first of his two goals at the 9:42 mark.
With three Gopher players draped over him at the front edge of the crease, Lamoureux somehow managed to get his stick on Stephane Pattyn’s feed from behind the net and redirect it behind Minnesota goaltender Kent Patterson.
Lamoureux’s goals were just the second and third of the season for the North Dakota captain whose assist on Derek Forbort’s second-period goal ignited UND’s six-goal barrage.
Forbort and Michael Parks each added a goal and an assist for the Sioux, while goaltender Aaron Dell (22 saves) and a stingy North Dakota defense shut out the Gophers on just seven shots over the game’s final 29:59.
Minnesota’s Kyle Rau contributed a goal and an assist, while Nate Schmidt and Erik Haula chipped in two assists apiece. Patterson took the loss with 22 saves of his own, but allowed six goals on 21 shots over the final 25:09, although there was blame to be shared in that regard.
The Gophers came out firing from the initial puck drop, keeping the Sioux back on their heels with their speed and tenacity. That intensity paid off shortly after Lamoureux was sent off for holding at 12:20 of the opening period.
Just 17 seconds later, Rau took a Haula pass and took it hard to the Sioux net, slipping the puck around Dell as he was sent flying into the left corner.
The Gophers outshot North Dakota 12-2 in the first 20 minutes and took that 1-0 lead into the second while keeping the pedal to the metal long into the middle stanza. Minnesota extended its lead to 3-0 by the halfway point of the game on goals by Zach Budish and Jake Hansen and appeared to be in full control.
But the Sioux came to life immediately following the timeout and got on the board just 44 seconds later when Forbort’s shot from the right point through traffic cut the lead to two heading into the final period.
“It was definitely a special win for us,” said Lamoureux. “Once we got that first one, we got a little confidence in ourselves and once that happened, the game became a little more fun.”
“We came out and had great energy in the game,” said Minnesota coach Don Lucia. “I think one of the things that hurt us, even through the second period, and I think even into the third, is we left a lot of plays on the rink. We had plenty of chances to go up 4-0 or 5-0.
“We just couldn’t get it back going again. There was no one that took charge out the on the rink for us.”
North Dakota dominated the third period against what had been a dominant third-period team all season long. Goals by Michael Parks and Brock Nelson got the ball rolling early on and it only picked up speed from there.
“We had a [TV] timeout soon thereafter when it was 3-3 and we talked to the guys about continuing to play, but they didn’t play,” said Lucia. “All of a sudden, you get on your heels and we just couldn’t get going again for whatever reason.
“I think we’ve given up 18 goals in the third period all year and we give up five tonight. You do this long enough, you get to see it all.”
“We played right into North Dakota’s game,” Hansen said of the Gophers’ play in the third period. “We went away from our systems, we went away from forechecking and getting shots on the net and clearly, they took advantage of that.”
Corban Knight added an insurance goal at 10:19 and Lamoureux iced it with 3:50 to play meaning the Broadmoor Trophy remains in North Dakota’s possession for at least one more night.
“[It was] a tale of two, absolutely two worlds tonight,” said Hakstol. “We had no gas in the tank in the first 30 minutes and we didn’t make any plays and couldn’t get ourselves going.
“We had a good bounce in the second period that gave us a chance.”
“We’re a team that’s not going to give up,” said Lamoureux. “We believe in each other and we believe in everybody’s ability to get a job done and I think that continued tonight and I think that it’s showed throughout our entire season.
“This isn’t the first game where we’ve come back in the third period and won a game.”
Video: North Dakota’s Michael Parks and Mario Lamoureux:
Video: Minnesota coach Don Lucia: