Those other Gophers -- the players that pounce on rebounds, flash their speed and score in transition – showed up Saturday for the second game of the North Dakota series.
It was a boffo performance. Nick Bjugstad scored the first two goals and Nate Condon the last two as the Gophers roughed up UND 6-2 for a split in their last-ever WCHA regular-season series at Ralph Engelstad Arena.
After losing to North Dakota 2-1 the first night, the Gophers dominated the rematch. And thanks to Nebraka Omaha’s 3-1 victory over Minnesota Duluth, the Gophers moved back into a tie for first place in the conference again with the Bulldogs whose 17-game unbeaten streak ended.
The No. 5 Gophers (16-8-1, 12-4) had lost three games in a row, all by one goal.
Bjugstad scored early and late in the opening period to give the Gophers a 2-0 lead.
Linemate Kyle Rau set him up both times. Breaking down the left side, Rau centered a pass under a sliding defenseman to Bjugstad for his first goal of the game and 18th of the season. It came on a short backhand.
His second goal came on a rebound. Dell stopped Rau’s shot from the slot with a leg pad, but the puck squirted right to Bjugstad. Goal No. 19.
The Gophers,looked more determined than the night before, outshot UND 14-7.
Patterson did have several tough chances. He stopped Brendan O’Donnell at the doorstep and grabbed Brock Nelson’s cannonball from the slot.
Five goals were scored in a wide open middle period. Just three minutes in, the Gophers took a 4-0 lead. Freshman Seth Ambroz scored on a backhand rebound from the right side. Only 46 seconds later, defenseman Nate Schmidt got a goal on a long shot right after Erik Haula won a faceoff.
The Ralph got mighty quiet with the home team down by four goals – the silence was broken by two UND goals in the middle of the period.
Freshman Michael Parks deflected a shot past Patterson and fans threw out two dead gophers to celebrate. Sniper Danny Kristo turned the noise-meter up a few more notches four minutes later and UND was within 4-2.
That made Nate Condon’s goal for the Gophers, with 39 seconds in the period to restore a three-goal lead, pretty significant. His shot went off Dell’s right shoulder.
Condon scored his second goal short-handed early in the third period.