Grand Forks, ND – With the football Gophers picking up a win in the longest college football rivalry Saturday afternoon, it was only fitting that another storied Gopher rivalry resumed on the ice.
The rivalry between the Minnesota Golden Gophers and North Dakota Fighting Hawks was back on display this weekend, as the #11 Gophers (9-7-0 Overall, 5-3-0-1 B1G) traveled up to Grand Forks to battle the #6 Hawks (10-5-0, 5-1-0-0 NCHC). Minnesota cruised to a 5-1 victory Friday before North Dakota came back to earn the split with a 3-2 Saturday triumph.
Bryce Brodzinski got the Gophers on the board first on Friday, scoring on the power play at 13:15 of the first period. Minnesota added two more in the second with Jack Perbix and Ryan Johnson scoring to put Minnesota up 3-0 heading into the 3rd. North Dakota’s Riese Gaber scored at 3:41 of the final frame to give the Hawks life down just two goals at 3-1, but Minnesota did enough to keep the puck out of the net again, and they tacked on two more goals late in the period (a Chaz Lucius empty netter followed by a Brodzinski snipe) to settle the contest at 5-1.
North Dakota came out with something to prove Saturday, and they took the game to the Gophers just about from the opening bell. The Hawks’ Gavin Hain scored at 3:27 of the first period to put NoDak up 1-0, and Mark Senden scored midway through the second period to give North Dakota a 2-0 lead. Through 2 periods, the Gophers had only managed 6 shots on goal, and early in the third Senden scored again for the Hawks to take a 3-0 lead.
However, the Gophers finally found some offense and fought back. Ben Meyers scored on the power play at 7:35 to cut the lead to 3-1, and Chaz Lucius scored with an empty net at 16:30 to draw the Gophers within one at 3-2. Unfortunately, Minnesota was unable to capitalize on the late flurries with an empty net in order to tie it up, and North Dakota skated away with the split and a 3-2 win.
Up next for Minnesota is a trip to Yost to take on the Michigan Wolverines. Michigan and Minnesota are widely expected to battle for the Big Ten title all season long, so this series (the last before the Christmas break) will be a huge one for both teams. Currently, the Gophers are just a point behind the Wolverines at the top of the Big Ten standings.
Friday’s game is a 5:30 CST start, while the puck drops at 6:00 CST on Saturday. Both games are on BTN, and can be heard on AM1130 / FM103.5.