UND-Minnesota rivalry ends in a 4-4 tie
MINNEAPOLIS -- Perhaps, the hockey gods weren't ready for this rivalry to end.
So, in front of a sold-out, buzzing, chanting Mariucci Arena, they gave everyone the most action-packed game of the season and five extra minutes to enjoy -- or to hold their breath.
And when it was all said and done Saturday night, the longtime rivals walked away, maybe fittingly, with a 4-4 tie in the last Western Collegiate Hockey Association regular-season meeting between the teams.
The University of North Dakota, 13-7-4 overall and 8-4-4 in league play, headed home with mixed feelings.
It registered only one point on the weekend and squandered a two-goal lead in the final nine minutes of play Saturday, but UND also found out it can go toe-to-toe with the country's No. 1-ranked team.
"We're still fighting hard for points," UND coach Dave Hakstol said. "On that side, it's disappointing to get one point out of four. In evaluating performance, I thought overall, we took a step forward. I liked a lot of things I saw from a couple of young guys in our lineup tonight that are hopefully a sign of things to come.
"I wouldn't give us an 'A' by any stretch of the imagination. But we did a good job. We fought hard."
Nate Condon, who had a five-point weekend, scored the game tying goal with just 2:58 left in the third period to send it into overtime.
UND's Rocco Grimaldi and Danny Kristo both rang shots off posts in the extra session -- UND's best chances to finish off its first victory in Mariucci since February 2008.
"I saw a hole up top and put it there," Grimaldi said of his chance from the slot. "It happened to hit the post. There's nothing you can do about that."
Grimaldi and Kristo both scored goals in the game, as did Drake Caggiula and Corban Knight, who extended his point streak to 19 games.
That's the fourth-longest point streak in program history and the longest since Steve Johnson's record 27 games in 1987-88.
Freshman Zane Gothberg got the start and was strong, stopping 31 shots.
"I thought he looked very sound, very confident," Hakstol said. "He fought hard to find pucks and did a nice job."
Top-ranked Minnesota extended its unbeaten streak to 10 games, moving to 17-3-4 overall and 9-3-4 in WCHA play.
The Gophers received a first-period goal from Jake Parenteau, a second-period tally from Sam Warning and third-period goals from Nick Bjugstad and Condon in a game that Minnesota never led.
"We come out of this tied for first in the standings, which is great to see," Minnesota coach Don Lucia said. "A lot of pluses from our standpoint."
The teams exchanged goals in the first period with Kristo and Parenteau both scoring on rebounds about a minute apart.
UND surged to a two-goal lead in the second when Knight scored on a breakaway and Grimaldi sniped a wrist shot past the glove of Adam Wilcox (22 saves) to make it 3-1. The Gophers got one back on Warning's wrist shot from the circle at 13:48 of the second.
Caggiula made it a two-goal game again at 7:20 of the third period, when he collected a long rebound off the end wall and scored on a turn-around shot. But Minnesota surged back to tie it.
Bjugstad tapped home a rebound at 11:10 and Zach Budish set up Condon with 2:58 left. The tying goal came right after an offensive-zone faceoff for the Gophers.
"We won that draw clean," Hakstol said. "We got stripped of the puck and didn't do a good job taking care of that critical area on top of the crease. It was a good play by them. I think Zane got a piece of it, it just squeezed through him."
Hakstol said this series is one that will make UND better for the stretch run of the season.
"There's no question," he said. "This is a high-level series. This is the type of series you're going to see in late March and early April, so it tells us we're right there. We're not where we need to be, but I think it's a good snapshot of what you're going to see two-and-a-half, three months down the road. I like some of the growth we saw in our team."
There's no telling when these rivals may meet again. They are moving into different conferences next season -- Minnesota to the Big Ten and UND to the National Collegiate Hockey Conference -- and there are no future games scheduled.
Of course, they could meet in the playoffs at some time.
"I don't think this will be the last time these teams meet," Gleason said. "I'll leave it at that."
Notes: Colten St. Clair replaced Connor Gaarder on the fourth line for UND. That was the only change among the skaters on either side. ... UND wore its black jerseys for the third time this season.