Gophers bounce back to rout UND 6-2Minnesota Sports
-- Minnesota jumped to a 4-0 lead and held off a second-period charge to hand UND its first loss in a month and a half and its first loss by more than one goal since October. Nick Bjugstad and Nate Condon each scored twice, Taylor Matson had three assists and the Gophers managed to grab a series split in the hostile environment.
By: Brad Elliott Schlossman - Grand Forks Herald, Pierce County Herald
GRAND FORKS, N.D. - The last time UND and Minnesota skated off the Ralph Engelstad Arena ice as Western Collegiate Hockey Association rivals, they were unable to make it through the handshake line without a scuffle breaking out.
UND coach Dave Hakstol said he didn’t like that, nor did he like his team’s energy during a 6-2 loss to the rival Gophers in front of 11,964 in Ralph Engelstad Arena.
Minnesota jumped to a 4-0 lead and held off a second-period charge to hand UND its first loss in a month and a half and its first loss by more than one goal since October. Nick Bjugstad and Nate Condon each scored twice, Taylor Matson had three assists and the Gophers managed to grab a series split in the hostile environment.
“I thought we were a step slow,” Hakstol said. “That’s not the way our team can play and be successful. I thought that was pretty evident early on. We weren’t sharp with pucks in terms of completing passes, pushing pucks up the ice and simple things like dumping pucks to good areas that we can forecheck.
“We just weren’t sharp. I thought that was very evident on our power play. We had a couple of scoring opportunities on it, but we didn’t recover any second pucks. That’s pretty indicative of the start and that was our big problem of the night.”
UND, 8-2-1 in the last 11 games, dropped to 12-9-2 overall and 8-8 in WCHA play, while the Gophers improved to 16-8-1 and 12-4.
After winning 2-1 on Friday night in dramatic fashion, UND was on its heels from the start in the series finale. Bjugstad, the WCHA’s leading goal scorer, scored 2 minutes, 37 seconds into the game and added a second goal with just 20 seconds left in the opening frame.
It was a familiar start for UND, which has allowed the first goal in about 70 percent of its games this season (16 of 23).
“That’s a big thing in this stadium,” said Bjugstad, who has potted 19 goals on the year. “You’ve got to get the crowd out of it. They’re really into it and they’re really loud. So, it was good to get a couple goals right away and get some momentum.”
The Gophers added to the lead on goals by Seth Ambroz and Nate Schmidt in the second frame before UND threatened to mount a comeback.
Michael Parks deflected an Andrew MacWilliam point shot at 9:47 of the second and Danny Kristo sniped a power-play goal off the post and in at 13:31 to make it 4-2.
But the Gophers deflated UND when Condon scored on a rush with just 39 seconds left in the middle frame.
“I didn’t think we played terrible, I thought we were OK,” Kristo said. “I thought Minnesota had some really timely goals, scoring at the end of the first there. Obviously, I thought when it was 4-2, we had them on their heels. Making it 5-2 at the end of the second really killed us. The slow start? Can’t have that versus a team like Minnesota.”
UND center Corban Knight said the team wasn’t ready to play.
“It’s just a case of us not being prepared,” Knight said. “The preparation was not there all day. We came out and made some mistakes and they capitalized on them right away. It came down to our preparation wasn’t where it needed to be.”
The game ended with some fireworks when Ben Blood went after Ambroz in the handshake line. The teams were then sent to their dressing rooms and Blood was assessed a 10-minute misconduct for the incident.
After the game Hakstol said he didn’t have any immediate updates on Brendan O’Donnell, who left the game with an apparent upper-body injury in the third period.