The No. 1-ranked Golden Gophers men’s hockey team suffered a 2-1 defeat against No. 5 North Dakota on Saturday night at Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks, N.D.
Minnesota (3-1-0 overall) managed to close the gap with a goal from Jaxon Nelson in the third period, but they fell short in their comeback attempt, resulting in a split weekend series with the Fighting Hawks (3-1-0 overall).
The game started with both teams having early scoring opportunities, but the netminders on both ends made crucial saves. The first period ended with a 0-0 tie, thanks to solid goaltending from Justen Close and strong defensive play.
In the second period, North Dakota managed to break the deadlock and end Close’s shutout streak of 153 minutes and 58 seconds. The home team then extended their lead early in the final period due to a defensive mistake by Minnesota. The Gophers increased their intensity in an attempt to mount a comeback, but their efforts were denied by the opposing goaltender.
Minnesota finally managed to reduce the deficit when Nelson redirected a shot from Ryan Chesley into the net in the third period. However, their momentum was short-lived as the Gophers were penalized again, limiting their chances to equalize. Despite pulling their goalie in the closing stages, Minnesota couldn’t find the equalizer and suffered a 2-1 defeat.
In other news, Nelson’s goal was his 25th career goal and his second of the season. Cal Thomas contributed an assist on Nelson’s goal and had a point in both games of the series. Chesley also recorded his first point of the season with the primary assist. The Gophers and Fighting Hawks have now split each of their last three series against each other. Bryce Brodzinski played his 150th game for Minnesota, the most of any active player in the NCAA.
Head coach Bob Motzko acknowledged the positives from the weekend but emphasized the need to avoid penalties. Looking ahead, the Gophers will face rival Wisconsin in a two-game series starting on October 26 at home. The games will be broadcasted on Big Ten Network and the Fox Sports app, with audio coverage available on the Gopher Radio Network.