Sunday, January 15, 2012

Minnesota Recap

North Dakota was looking to exact a measure of revenge this weekend after being swept by the University of Minnesota earlier this season. After producing a thrilling 2-1 victory Friday night in an electrified Ralph Engelstad Arena, UND's hopes of a sweep were dashed by way of Saturday's 6-2 Minnesota win. Here are a few thoughts:
  • Aaron Dell played very well Friday night, but he allowed some goals Saturday that we've come to expect him to save, eventually being replaced by Brad Eidsness to start the third period. Minnesota goaltender Kent Patterson also didn't seem to be himself early on Saturday, but he settled down and was solid down the stretch.
  • Outside of Danny Kristo's checking from behind penalty, the Sioux played with a lot of poise Friday as the young lineup did not seem to have any problem adjusting to the intensity of the rivalry. Saturday was a different story however, as North Dakota suffered let downs in several key areas. The passing was not as crisp, the power play struggled in maintaining possession, there were too many odd-man chances, and, as mentioned earlier, the goaltending was not as solid. Ups and downs tend to happen on a night to night basis, and Minnesota did what good teams do, which is to capitalize on the opportunities presented to them.
  • Minnesota's fifth goal on Saturday, coming late in the second period, was a back-breaker. After falling behind 4-0 the Sioux were able to scratch back to within a couple of goals, and in doing so they brought the crowd back to life, which seemed to rattle the Gophers. A third unanswered goal by North Dakota would have blown the roof off the place, but Minnesota was able to stymie the comeback with a deflating goal that came with under a minute to play in the period.
  • Brendan O'Donnell skated off the ice Saturday night with what appeared to be an upper-body injury, but no update on his status has been reported. 
  • Brock Nelson was a treat to watch this weekend. His hands and instincts are tremendous, and he has a deceptively quick shot that he can release from a variety of angles. 
  • Things got ugly at the end of Saturday's game as Ben Blood was tripped while the teams mingled in front of the benches after the final horn sounded. Then, in the handshake line Blood took a shot at Minnesota's Kyle Rau and eventually wound up engaging in a brief tussle with Seth Ambroz. The teams were eventually separated and ushered into their locker rooms with no further issue. The intensity of the series and the agitating style with which Rau chooses to play obviously spurred Blood, and it is unfortunate that a handshake skirmish was the end result. Here's to hoping these two teams meet again in this year's Final Five.