MINNEAPOLIS -- College is all about learning, but most students have a few lessons that they don’t enjoy. This was the case for the Minnesota Gophers on Friday night.
After an ugly loss to regional rival North Dakota on Thanksgiving, the Gophers bounced back and put together an impressive effort, but it wasn’t quite enough. The Fighting Hawks scored three times in the middle of the game and skated away with a 3-2 win in the series finale.
“I hate lessons, but we learned one. They’re not fun when you have something happen like (Thursday) night, but give our guys credit. They responded tonight,” said Gophers coach Bob Motzko, referencing the team’s 9-3 loss in the series opener. “To a man we came with an effort tonight to play a hockey game against a really good hockey team. Unfortunately we made a couple mistakes, and it cost us. But we battled.”
The Gophers (5-8-3) got an early goal from Tyler Nanne and a third period power play goal from Ben Meyers, but gave up a trio in the middle, as North Dakota swept a series in Minneapolis for the first time since the 2006-07 season.
Freshman goalie Jared Moe had 19 saves for the Gophers in the loss.
Nanne, who had given a frank assessment of his team’s effort after the lopsided loss on Thursday, took it upon himself as a co-captain to lead the way on Friday. His blast from the blue line less than three minutes into the game eluded Hawks goalie Adam Scheel and gave the Gophers their first lead of the series.
“Tyler responded like a captain tonight,” Motzko said. “That was an effort. It was a tough night last night and we needed everyone to respond and he was one of the first guys over the boards with a response. That goes a long way.”
It was the second goal of the season for Nanne, and the first since he scored on the team’s first shot of the season on Oct. 11 at Colorado College.
North Dakota, as it had done repeatedly in the series opener, took advantage of a Gophers turnover to get on the scoreboard. Judd Caulfield picked off a puck behind the Minnesota net, and fed a pass to Pinto who was crashing toward the goal. Pinto’s shot beat Moe on the glove side and the teams stood at 1-1 after a period.
The second period was all Hawks, with Jasper Weatherby giving North Dakota the lead, and Jordan Kawaguchi getting his third goal of the weekend near the midway point of the game for a 3-1 lead.
But the Gophers weren’t done, and made it a game again in the third when Meyers scored his second goal of the weekend and third of the season.
“They have a lot of pride in that locker room and I thought they played an excellent game,” North Dakota coach Brad Berry said, with a nod to the Gophers. “They pushed hard in all areas and it was an excellent college hockey game.”
Scheel finished with 23 saves for the Hawks (12-1-2).
North Dakota 1-2-0—3
First period — 1. MIN, Tyler Nanne 2 (unassisted), 2:41. 2. UND, Shane Pinto 6 (Judd Caulfield), 12:42. Penalties — Matt Kierstad, UND (roughing after the whistle), 0:54, Robbie Stucker, MIN (hooking), 2:02.
Second period — 3. UND, Jasper Weatherby 5 (Colton Poolman, Jacob Bernard-Docker), 3:04. 4. UND, Jordan Kawaguchi 7 (Kierstad, Collin Adams), 9:48. Penalties -- Grant Mismash, UND (boarding), 11:02; Brannon McManus, MIN (tripping), 11:42.
Third period — 5. MIN, Ben Meyers 3 (Sammy Walker, Blake McLaughlin), 6:27, (pp). Penalties -- Kierstad, UND (tripping), 5:23.
Shots on goal — UND 9-6-7—22; MIN 9-8-8—25. Goalies — Adam Scheel, UND (25 shots-23 saves); Jared Moe, MIN (22-19). Power plays — UND 0-of-2; MIN 1-of-3. Referees — Colin Kronforst, Brian Aaron. Linesmen — Sam Shikowsky, Nicholas Bradshaw. Att. — 9,823.