Grand Forks, ND – The University of North Dakota and the University of Minnesota have had some epic battles over the years, and the opening game of this series was no different as UND gutted out a 2-1 win.
The second game of the series would turn out to be a one that the UND Hockey team will want to wipe from their memory bank as soon as possible.
Saturday night’s game was the last time that UND and UMN will play a regular season WCHA game in Ralph Englestad Arena, due to the formation of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference and the Big Ten Hockey Conference, both teams will leave the WCHA and go their separate ways. It’s unknown at this time when Minnesota will make a return trip to the Ralph Englestad Arena. It could be some time before the two teams play in the Ralph again.
Due to the fact that this was the last regular season WCHA match-up at the Ralph Englestad Arena, “ever” between North Dakota and Minnesota, tonight’s game should’ve had all of the makings of an instant classic, the game would turn out to be a stinker for the team from North Dakota.
Coming into tonight’s game UND and UMN were teams going in different directions, counting last night’s win against Minnesota UND had gone 10-3-1 in the last 14 games since they were swept by the Gophers at Mariucci Arena back on November 5th, 2011. Even with the loss in tonight’s game UND has still put together a pretty nice run of 10-4-1 in the last fifteen games.
Not all is lost for the team from Grand Forks.
The Minnesota Gophers had lost three games in a row coming into tonight’s game and had gone 6-7-1 in the last 14 games since sweeping North Dakota in Mariucci Arena. Minnesota would break that three game losing streak tonight with an impressive 6-2 win. What was more impressive with Minnesota’s win tonight was that they only scored one goal on the power play four even strength goals and one short handed marker).
The Gophers would come out during the first period with a lot of jump in their step, the Gophers were connecting on their passes and flying through the neutral zone with speed uncontested as the UND defenders didn’t have an answer for the Gophers speed and at times appeared to be standing around flat footed, watching the Gophers make plays.
The Gophers would easily race to a very comfortable 4-0 lead before the game was even 23 minutes old.
The Gopher’s top line of Kyle Rau, Nick Bjugstad and Zach Budish would lead the charge for the Golden Gophers out of the gate. Rau and Bjugstad would add two more points to their already impressive season stats totals before the first period was over.