Gophers Battle Back for 5-5 Tie Against UND
In a series that spans almost a century, the Gophers and the North Dakota Fighting Somethings played a classic on Friday. Minnesota trailed four times but battled back to score a late goal, earning a 5-5 tie against their most hated rival.
What I Saw
The Gophers haven’t played UND in almost three years, but there was no love lost between the former WCHA foes. Even though it’s mostly new faces, the players knew what was at stake in the rivalry.
“Going into it, I was nervous for the first time in a long time,” said Tyler Sheehy. “It was really, really loud at times, you couldn’t hear guys on the bench...Overall it was an unbelievable experience.”
Though it was less full than I expected, the building was buzzing with excitement. The fans were loud and the students were rowdy. The action on the ice got started quick with a couple shoving matches and a near fight in the first period.
“It’s just getting to understand that atmosphere,” said Don Lucia. “The scrum, one of the early whistles in the game, it’s like, ‘we’re back!’”
Things really didn’t start well for the Gophers. Less than two minutes in, UND got on the board, and followed it up with a second goal on their third shot of the game. When you’re playing your rival, it’s always tough to get down that early, but the Gophers actually played well out of the gate.
“You take a punch when two pucks go in in three shots,” said Lucia. “You get a little shell-shocked a little bit but our first period was really good.”
The obvious thing to take away from the game is how the Gophers continued to come back. They found themselves down 2-0, 3-2, 4-3, and 5-4. UND scored their fifth with under two minutes remaining, and Tommy Novak responded just 42 seconds later with an extra skater on the ice. It was really impressive to see the fight when UND just kept putting pucks in the net.
“I thought it was critical when you’re down 2-0, getting that next goal to make it 2-1,” said Lucia. “We’ve come back and won games and tied games when we’ve given up the first goal. I think guys feel like we can score.”
By The Numbers
3 Powerplay goals for the Gophers who were 3-8 with the man advantage. They held the Hawks to just one tally on five powerplay attempts.
77Seconds left in the game when Tommy Novak tied the game with an extra skater. I haven’t heard Mariucci that loud in a long time.
15 Shot advantage for Minnesota on the night. The Gophers did everything they needed to win the game, but allowed five goals on just 22 UND shots.
3Tyler Sheehy had a goal and assist on the night.
2 UND’s first-round NHL draft pick Tyson Jost had a goal and two assists.
1Tommy Novak paced the Gophers with two tallies and one helper.
We’re back at it again tomorrow night at 8 p.m. It’ll be a full day of Gopher sports, and hopefully we can go 2-0. If you don’t want to spend $100 per ticket, the game will be on FSN.
A few oddities from last night:
During the pre-game band march around, fog machines (one near the press box and another from the trusses close to the pizza stand) started pumping fog into the arena. I thought, cool, it's going to be like one of those old time, NHL, spring playoff games. Unfortunately, it never reached beyond the "what's the smoke for?" level.
Then the band (I think composed of both students and alums) took their seats and started playing (sotto voce (at least as sotto voce as a pep band can)) the National Anthem. It was obviously a practice run through; but slowly from west to east people started standing. By the end, "land of the free and home of the (insert here North Dakota fans taunting the Sioux)" everyone was standing. Ten minutes later we got to do it again.
And there were additional lights installed for nifty color mixing and moving patterns during the player intros and beyond.
When the game started, our row (13 rows up from the Gopher bench), had ourselves and another couple. Early in the first period, we were joined by some UND fans to our right and then between the first and second period four more green bedecked fans moved to the vacant seats on our left. The student section, however, was in full voice.
Time to do it all over tonight.