Sioux storm back to beat Gophers in WCHA semifinalsMinnesota Sports
-- North Dakota scored six straight goals, outshot league champion Minnesota 21-2 the rest of the way and came out with a 6-3 victory over their biggest rival in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association semifinals Friday night in the Xcel Energy Center.
By: Brad Elliot Schlossman - Grand Forks Herald, Pierce County Herald
ST. PAUL — Trailing 3-0 on the scoreboard and 23-7 on the shot chart late in the second period, UND coach Dave Hakstol called a timeout simply to give tired legs a rest.
The coach didn’t stop coaching and the team didn’t stop playing, and it all led to the most stunning comeback of Hakstol’s eight-year tenure at the school.
The Sioux scored six straight goals, outshot league champion Minnesota 21-2 the rest of the way and came out with a 6-3 victory over their biggest rival in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association semifinals Friday night in the Xcel Energy Center.
Captain Mario Lamoureux, who entered the weekend with one goal on the season, scored twice and added an assist. Derek Forbort, Michael Parks, Brock Nelson and Corban Knight also scored goals for the Sioux, who beat first-team all-WCHA goalie Kent Patterson five times in Friday night’s decisive third period.
With each goal, the Sioux fans among the 16,738 in attendance got progressively louder and they bellowed out a “Let’s go Sioux” chant as the Gopher faithful exited in the remaining seconds.
The Sioux win sets up a rematch of last year’s Broadmoor Trophy championship game against the University of Denver at 7:07 tonight in St. Paul.
UND tied the WCHA’s all-time record for consecutive league playoff wins with 12 in a row and will try to become the first team in league history to win three consecutive playoff titles.
The Sioux, who secured an NCAA tournament berth with Thursday’s win over St. Cloud State, now are in position to earn a No. 1 seed when the bracket is revealed at 11 a.m. Sunday. UND is ranked No. 4 in the Pairwise, which mimics the NCAA’s selection criteria.
UND improved to 24-12-3 overall and 20-5-2 since Thanksgiving, the best record in the country during that stretch.
Hakstol credited the team’s leaders, specifically Lamoureux, who scored the eventual game-winning goal.
“He’s a pretty steely-eyed guy,” Hakstol said. “There’s a lot of belief in the things he’s about and the things he does. That carries through to our locker room. Guys believe in themselves. They play very hard for one another. Not a lot of outside things seem to affect this group.
“The fans are a huge part of this. That’s the one boost we have from the external side. The rest comes from inside our locker room.”
The game was one-sided early with the Gophers outshooting the Sioux 12-2 in the first period. Hakstol said he remembered looking up at the scoreboard midway through the second and still seeing two shots on goal for UND.
Forbort started the comeback with a blast from the point at 14:51 of the second period, which deflected off of a Gopher defenseman and the post before going in. That made it 3-1 at the second intermission.
The Sioux scored back-to-back goals 30 seconds apart early in the third period to tie it — a Carter Rowney wraparound that went off of Parks’ skate and a Nelson snipe from the high slot.
Lamoureux put home a centering pass from Stephane Pattyn at 9:42 for the eventual game-winner. Knight tipped a Nick Mattson point shot at 10:19 and Lamoureux tacked on a rebound goal at 16:10.
“Maybe our inexperience in this environment showed a little bit,” Minnesota Don Lucia said. “It’s a great lesson for us. Congrats to North Dakota. They’ve got the championship belt for a reason.”