ST. PAUL, Minn. – For the first 30 minutes of play, the Minnesota Gophers were the best team on the ice tonight. Someone forgot to tell the Gophers that hockey games are 60 minutes long.
Tonight, it was a tale of two games.
The Gophers were able to get the first goal of the game at the 12:37 mark of the first period with a Kyle Rau power play goal that was the freshman’s 17th of the season.
Minnesota limited the Fighting Sioux’s time and space and got in the shooting lanes, bottling up the Fighting Sioux in their own end.
Getting scored on first is not uncommon for the Fighting Sioux. They have had the first goal scored on them in 20 of 38 games this season. During those 20 games the Fighting Sioux have a record of 8-10-2.
Make that record 9-10-2 with the win tonight.
The Gophers scored two more goals during the second period with a power-play goal by forward Jake Hanson that was his 13th goal of the season. The Gophers would get an even strength goal from junior forward Zach Budish at the 10:01 mark of the second period.
Then a funny thing happened. The Gophers took the foot off of the gas and the Sioux raced on by them.
The Fighting Sioux called a time out with 5:53 left in the second period, then took over the game. The Fighting Sioux seized the momentum and beat the Gophers at their own game.
Derek Forbort would break the run of three Golden Gopher goals with a blast from the right point at the 14:51 mark of the second period. That was the second goal of the year for the sophomore defenseman.
The Fighting Sioux started methodically chipping away at the Gophers lead in the third period.
They got two quick goals when Michael Parks and Brock Nelson scored 30 seconds apart to tie the game 3-3. They never looked back.
The Fighting Sioux outscored the Golden Gophers 5-0 in the third period and also outshot the Golden Gophers 17-2 in the stanza to send 16,378 hockey fans home in disbelief.
North Dakota was led by senior captain Mario Lamoureux’s two goals and three points. When Lamoureux scores a goal for the Fighting Sioux they have a record of 14-0-0.
The Captain savored the win against the Golden Gophers.
“It was definitely a special win for us,” Lamoureux said. “I think once we went into the intermission in the third period, we just said, let’s go out and give it everything that we got, let’s try and pop an early one in, Parksy did that. We just kind of rolled with the momentum and I think once we got that first one, we got a little confidence in ourselves. Once that happened that game became a little more fun, it wasn’t so frustrating playing in your own end and once you’re out there having fun making things happen, it’s a pretty easy game.”
After the game, Fighting Sioux coach Dave Hakstol was proud of his hockey team.
“Tale of absolutely two worlds tonight,” Hakstol said. “Obviously, we had no gas in the tank the first 30 minutes, we didn’t make any plays and we couldn’t get ourselves going. Its little things in this game and you find a way to survive, when you’re going through some points in the hockey game, our guys did a good job of that tonight. One good thing happened. We got a good bounce in the second period tonight, that gave us a chance and I heard Mario [Lamoureux] talking about it. Let’s just go out and see what we can do and let’s get one and see where it goes. This is where it went. I am proud of our hockey team.”
With the win tonight the Fighting Sioux improve to 24-12-3. North Dakota will try for the Final Five three peat tomorrow night against their heated rival Denver.