Chip Scoggins: Gophers relish their chance to erase bad WCHA memory

  • Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 25, 2012 - 1:37 AM

The hockey gods smiled and handed fans a gift when the Gophers and North Dakota both won their opening NCAA West Regional games, setting up their sixth and final meeting of the season.

Nate Schmidt normally doesn't have trouble sleeping before games. His pregame nap typically lasts a few hours, but he found himself staring at the ceiling Saturday afternoon before the Gophers faced Boston University.

"Your mind is racing," the sophomore defenseman said.

Schmidt figured shuteye wouldn't come any easier that night as he readied himself to play a hated rival with a trip to the Frozen Four at stake.

"It's going to be tough," he said.

Can you blame him? The hockey gods smiled and handed fans a gift when the Gophers and North Dakota both won their opening NCAA West Regional games, setting up their sixth and final meeting of the season on Sunday and a rematch of their topsy-turvy showdown in the WCHA playoffs a week ago.

North Dakota won that game 6-3 after climbing out of a 3-0 hole. The Gophers controlled the first 30 minutes, fell apart in spectacular fashion in the third period and then had to hear about their collapse in the days leading to Saturday's opening game in the NCAA tournament.

"It made us a little bitter in practice," sophomore center Nick Bjugstad said.

The memory adds extra spice to a rivalry that doesn't require additional motivation. These are two programs rich in tradition with passionate fan bases and a mutual disdain for each other. Sunday marks their 288th career meeting, and that alone is motivation enough.

But along with bragging rights, the winner will advance to Tampa for the Frozen Four, while the loser is forced to stew until they meet again next season.

"I don't think words can describe it," Gophers sophomore center Erik Haula said. "It's something that doesn't happen that much."

It should be a lively atmosphere, although the vibe inside Xcel Energy Center was anything but that Saturday. The building was half full -- attendance was announced at 9,386 -- and lacked any real sustained energy. That presumably will change as Gophers and Fighting Sioux fans mingle.

"There's nothing like playing North Dakota for us," senior captain Taylor Matson said.

The Gophers hold a 3-2 advantage this season, but their previous meeting looms larger than the rest. The Gophers said all the right things in response to their collapse last week. They practiced the next day, talked about what went wrong and vowed publicly and privately to put it behind them.

"We tried to drop that out of our brains," Matson said. "We just wanted to get it out of our system."

They are human, however, and it's not easy to erase the gory memory of allowing five goals in one period after being in such control of things. That sort of disappointment tends to stick, no matter how much everyone preaches the need to move on.

"You've got to kind of forget about it, but obviously it's still in the back of our mind a little bit, which is good for us," Bjugstad said. "I think it will motivate us a little more."

That's a delicate thing though. The Gophers naturally were frustrated by how they came unglued in that third period and hope to atone for that with a strong showing. But Schmidt said they also must "harness their energy." In other words, they can't go crazy trying to make up for one bad period.

"You've got to take a little bit of revenge but also be calm, cool and collected," he said. "If you get too amped up or too excited or too far into the rivalry, it can kind of take you away from our game."

In the wake of last week's loss, Gophers coaches stressed the importance of responding in tough times. Coach Don Lucia used a boxing analogy, being able to take a punch and keep going.

The Gophers showed some of that trait in a 7-3 victory against Boston. They responded every time Boston did something to grab momentum. The Gophers didn't stay on their heels and allow things to snowball.

"I think we learned something from last weekend," Haula said.

The stakes are much higher this time. It's win or go home for two rivals that don't particularly like each other.

"It doesn't get much better than that," Schmidt said.

Well put.

Chip Scoggins •

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Tennessee 13 FINAL
Jacksonville 21
Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
San Diego 12/20/14 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
New York 97 FINAL
Chicago 103
New Orleans 99 FINAL
Houston 90
Milwaukee 108 FINAL
Sacramento 107
Oklahoma City 109 FINAL
Golden State 114
Florida 2 FINAL(SO)
Philadelphia 1
Colorado 0 FINAL(OT)
Pittsburgh 1
Toronto 1 FINAL
Carolina 4
Washington 5 FINAL(OT)
Columbus 4
Anaheim 2 FINAL
Montreal 1
St. Louis 4 FINAL
Los Angeles 6
Edmonton 3 FINAL
San Jose 4
St Thomas (TX) 61 FINAL
Rice 72
Stony Brook 59 FINAL
Canisius 60
Temple 82 FINAL
Delaware 62
Long Island 69
Lehigh 65 FINAL
Quinnipiac 80
South Alabama 54 FINAL
Richmond 65
Seton Hall 89 FINAL
South Florida 69
Ga Southern 76 FINAL
Stetson 67
Yale 57 FINAL
Vermont 56
Cleveland State 54 FINAL
Virginia 70
Wright State 69 FINAL
Western Carolina 56
Nicholls 54 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 79
Morgan State 48 FINAL
Rider 62
Idaho State 72 FINAL
South Dakota St 75
Oakland City 52 FINAL
Austin Peay 76
Eureka 38 FINAL
Bradley 80
Appalachian St 65 FINAL
Charlotte 75
Connecticut 56 FINAL
Duke 66
Southern Miss 46 FINAL
Jackson State 66
Coastal Carolina 68 FINAL
Ole Miss 71
Montana State 53 FINAL
South Dakota 55
UAB 70
Ohio 69 FINAL
Evansville 81
CS-Dominguez 50 FINAL
Cal State Fullerton 72
Walla Walla 39 FINAL
Idaho 86
DePaul 59 FINAL
Oregon State 90
Nevada 65 FINAL
Pacific 69
Portland State 40 FINAL
San Francisco 77
CS-Bakersfield 56 FINAL
Utah State 57
Nevada 12/20/14 10:00 AM
Utah State 12/20/14 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 12/20/14 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 12/20/14 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 12/20/14 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Niagara 76 FINAL
Cleveland State 58
High Point 59 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 81
Towson 64 FINAL
Wake Forest 74
Presbyterian 50 FINAL
Charlotte 66
Chicago State 62 FINAL
Bradley 59
Northwestern Coll 58 FINAL
Drake 102
Vanderbilt 67 FINAL
Marquette 80
Temple 78 FINAL
Howard 48
Southern Miss 66 FINAL
Ole Miss 68
Rider 67
Miami-Florida 74 FINAL
St Mary-KS 51 FINAL
South Dakota 115
William & Mary 71 FINAL
Wofford 51
Troy 82 FINAL
Evansville 94
Loyola Marymount 54 FINAL
USC 96
St Francis-PA 52 FINAL
Duquesne 92
Indiana-Southeast 45 FINAL
Delaware State 52 FINAL
Detroit 74
Tenn Temple 48 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 68
West Virginia St 58 FINAL
Radford 52
Fairfield 47 FINAL
Seton Hall 79
Dartmouth 44 FINAL
New Hampshire 60
Ball State 47 FINAL
Pittsburgh 59
Jacksonville 61 FINAL
Tennessee St 64
Trine 45 FINAL
Western Mich 81
Tenn Tech 53 FINAL
Lipscomb 72
Samford 56 FINAL
Tulane 57
New Orleans 55 FINAL
Tulsa 78
Incarnate Word 61 FINAL
TX-Pan American 65
Ark-Little Rock 42 FINAL
South Dakota St 67
CS-Northridge 77 FINAL
Northern Ariz 71
Santa Clara 88 FINAL
Oregon 92
(19) Oklahoma St 55 FINAL
Weber State 49
Washington 69 FINAL
San Diego State 48
Cal Poly 68 FINAL
New Mexico 84
(10) Louisville 65 FINAL
Grand Canyon 51
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters


Gophers Football Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan 2:30 pmX30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 amX24-17
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 amX39-38
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 amX28-24
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa 11 amX51-14
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State 11 amX31-24
Nov 22 - at Nebraska 11 amX28-24
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin 2:30 pmX34-24
Jan 1 - vs. Missouri noon




question of the day

Poll: How much do you like the Gophers going to the Citrus Bowl?

Weekly Question