The Gophers are going back to the Frozen Four. For the 20th time.
They earned a trip to Tampa in two weeks by beating North Dakota 5-2 on Sunday in the West Regional championship game.
Captain Taylor Matson scored the game-winner for the Gophers (28-13-1) in the second period to give them a 3-1 lead. Freshman Travis Boyd followed that goal with his first of the season five minutes later for a three-goal lead.
Danny Kristo and Mario Lamoureux scored goals for the Fighting Sioux (26-13-3) who outshot the Gophers 26-24, including 15-4 in the third period.
The Gophers will play the winner of the Boston College/Minnesota Duluth game at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 5, in the second semifinal of the Frozen Four in Tampa.
In the Final Five semifinals, the Fighting Sioux rallied from a 3-0 deficit to beat the Gophers 6-3. Players on the maroon and gold said they were embarrassed or they choked. Not this time.
Defenseman Ben Marshall gave the Gophers’ a 1-0 lead in the middle of the opening period on a one-timer from 50 feet. He beat UND goalie Aaron Dell high on his glove side.
After an evenly played first period, the ice tilted in the Gophers’ favor in the second. They outscored UND 3-1 and outshot the Fighting Sioux 12-2.
Erik Haula struck quickly, scoring his 20th goal on a power play. Somehow he was uncovered down low and Nick Bjugstad, in the left corner, found him.
UND’s Kristo answered 1:23 later on a shot from the slot to cut the Gophers’ lead to 2-1. Gophers goalie Patterson didn’t see another shot that period until the closing seconds.
Dell? He was not as fortunate. Defenseman Nate Schmidt for around a UND player and drove to the net. His shot was stopped but Taylor Matson, following the play, put in the rebound at 9:08. It was his first goal in 19 games.
Freshman Travis Boyd, who had not scored in 33 games this season, made it 4-1 about five minutes later. He tipped Nate Condon’s shot past Dell.
The all-tournament team: Forwards--Kyle Rau, Gophers; Brock Nelson and Danny Kristo, UND. Defensemen--Nate Schmidt, Gophers; Ben Blood, UND. Goalie—Kent Patterson, Gophers. MVP—Patterson.