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Sioux comeback falls short

GRAND FORKS -- Another fast and furious ending couldn't save the University of North Dakota this time. No. 15 Minnesota withstood a late rally by the seventh-ranked Sioux to come away with a 4-3 Western Collegiate Hockey Association victory befor...

GRAND FORKS -- Another fast and furious ending couldn't save the University of North Dakota this time.

No. 15 Minnesota withstood a late rally by the seventh-ranked Sioux to come away with a 4-3 Western Collegiate Hockey Association victory before 11,857 fans Saturday at Ralph Engelstad Arena.

"They kind of made it interesting," said Gophers goaltender Alex Kangas, whose team pulled out of Grand Forks with a split of the two-game series. "I'm proud of the way the guys played. (UND) kind of did the same thing last night. When you play North Dakota, it's always going to be interesting."

The game opened where Friday night's matchup left off, as both teams made the most of key offensive opportunities.

Struggling to find its offense the last six games, Minnesota needed less than three minutes to get on the board Saturday.

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Mike Hoeffel secured a lose puck near the blue line, split Sioux defenders Zach Jones and Jake Marto, and beat goaltender Jean-Philippe Lamoureux to put the Gophers ahead 1-0 at 2:37 of the first period.

UND, which scored four goals during a frantic third period en route to a 4-2 win Friday, tied it at 1-1 midway through the first period.

Sophomore Darcy Zajac's pass from the far right side ricocheted off T.J. Oshie's skate and into the net, setting up a review of the play.

The REA crowd erupted as referees, after a short review, signaled the goal would stand because Oshie had not kicked the puck forward.

Gophers junior center Blake Wheeler made it 2-1 on a pass by Derek Peltier with 1:15 remaining in the first period.

Minnesota went ahead 3-1 when forward Mike Howe beat a UND defender to the puck, raced down the right side of the rink and hit Mike Hoeffel with a pass in front of the net late in the second.

Playing with an extra skater, Gophers forward Ben Gordon worked free in front of the net and tipped a rebound past a sprawling Lamoureux with 1.6 on the clock to make it 4-1.

"We need to scratch and claw to get better," UND coach Dave Hakstol said.

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Lamoureux, whose team failed to clear the puck during a lengthy delayed penalty, collapsed to his back and tossed his hands above his head in disgust.

"To sweep a series in this league you have to have desperation for 60 minutes," Hakstol said. "We didn't put it together for 60 minutes."

The teams paired off as the buzzer sounded to end the period.

Sioux forward Brad Malone and Minnesota's Even Kaufmann provided most of the fireworks, setting the crowd in a frenzy when they crashed to the ice in a heap following a shoving match.

The Sioux waited until 4 minutes remained to mount a comeback.

Moorhead High School graduate Chris VandeVelde tipped in a pass from Ryan Duncan to make the score 4-2.

Less than two minutes later, VandeVelde redirected a Robbie Bina shot to make it 4-3.

Time ran out on the Sioux when a Gophers player cleared the puck out of the Minnesota zone with less than 10 seconds remaining.

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"Now we'll have a happy bus ride home," Lucia said. "... It got a little hairy, but that happens a lot up here when they get going."

The Forum and The Dickinson Press and Forum Communications Co.

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