Minnesota, North Dakota end rivalry with tie
MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota and North Dakota's college hockey rivalry has existed for over 82 years and 290 games. What's an extra few minutes?
The long-running series that has been described by participants as "hatred" was set to end with Saturday's game at Minnesota, the final time the rivals face each other in regular-season conference play. Naturally, 60 minutes wasn't enough to settle Saturday's game. In fact, these two might just need postseason play to clear things up for this season.
Gophers forward Nate Condon scored with 2:58 remaining in the third period, erasing a two-goal deficit in the period and the weekend series ended in a 4-4 tie after overtime. Jake Parenteau, Sam Warning and Nick Bjugstad also scored for top-ranked Minnesota (17-3-4, 9-3-4 WCHA). Eden Prairie, Minn., native Danny Kristo, Corban Knight, Rocco Grimaldi and Drake Caggiula scored for sixth-ranked North Dakota (3-7-4, 8-4-4).
"It was a kind of a final -- at least regular season -- game of the WCHA between us," Gophers coach Don Lucia said. "I wouldn't be surprised if we see each other down the line here this year. It was a better played game (than Friday night). I thought both teams maybe were a little bit more relaxed tonight."
North Dakota and the Gophers have no schedule matchups currently remaining with Minnesota beginning play in the new Big Ten Conference next season. The two could agree to a non-conference matchup when the Gophers' schedule clears in a few years, but the only possibilities of another meeting between the two teams would be in the postseason. Last year, the two met in the WCHA tournament title game, with North Dakota winning. Minnesota then ended UND's season last year in the NCAA tournament.
The Gophers lead the all-time series 145-130-15, and Saturday's game was another tight one. Minnesota twice battled back from two goals down to tie the game. North Dakota scored first with Kristo scoring for the 14th time this season, but the Gophers countered 1:11 later when Parenteau scored his first goal of the year.
North Dakota then had two breakaway goals on Minnesota freshman goaltender Adam Wilcox, with Knight and Grimaldi firing shots up above Wilcox's glove hand in the second period. Wilcox finished with 22 saves as the Gophers outshot UND 35-26.
After Warning scored in the second, North Dakota took another two-goal lead in the third after a replay showed a shot by Caggiula snuck past Wilcox during a scrum in front of the net. But Minnesota responded again.
Bjugstad scored his 13th goal of the year with a tip-in of a rebound after Erik Haula moved inside for a shot in front of UND freshman goaltender Zane Gothberg. Condon's equalizer was a one-time shot from the slot on a centering pass by Zach Budish.
"I'm proud of our guys," Lucia said. "Two different times we were down two goals and found a way to come back and get a point out of the game tonight."
Condon scored for the sixth time in seven games and his goal gave him five points against North Dakota in the two games this weekend. Erik Haula had an assist on Bjugstad's goal, extending his points streak to 16 game. Budish finished with two assists.
"I was proud of the way our guys came back when we were down 4-2 with nine and a half minutes," Budish said. "Obviously neither team is happy with a tie, but I guess it is a fitting way (to end the regular rivalry) and I'm guessing we'll probably see them again this year."
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