GRAND FORKS, N.D. – So much for the recent Friday flops.
The No. 11 Gophers men's hockey went into the Ralph Engelstad Arena and beat No. 6 North Dakota 5-1 before an announced crowd of 11,624 on Friday night in the first game of their highly anticipated series.
Minnesota had been 0-3 on Fridays this month, 3-0 on Saturdays.
"We had some toughness in us tonight," Gophers coach Bob Motzko said. "It was a strong game for us. Best game by our defensemen all year, Laffer [goalie Jack LaFontaine] was as strong as can be. It was a good win for us."
LaFontaine had 21 saves.
A good start for the Gophers helped in the 299th meeting of these border rivals. Minnesota was ahead 3-0 before the middle of the second period. And stayed comfortably ahead with Bryce Brodzinski, a junior forward who played at Blaine High, scoring the first and last goals of the game.
The Gophers took a 1-0 lead on Brodzinski's seventh goal of the season at 13 minutes, 15 seconds of the first period. It came after UND's Chris Jandric was called for slashing.
Both teams played 4-on-4 for 15 seconds before Minnesota went on a dominating power play. The visitors had five shots on UND goalie Zach Driscoll, including one by Brodzinski, that were turned away. Another shot was blocked before Brodzinski scored.
Minnesota's lead grew to 3-0 in the second period on goals a little more than four minutes apart by Jack Perbix and Ryan Johnson. It was the second goal of the season for both. Perbix got his at 7:33.
The Fighting Hawks' Riese Gaber got the first goal of the third, at 3:41. Still time enough to mount a comeback.
But UND, which had won the previous four meetings with the Gophers, could not get another puck past LaFontaine, so it pulled Driscoll early and it cost the Fighting Hawks.
Chaz Lucius scored an empty-net goal at 15:39 to make it 4-1. And then with Driscoll, who had 27 stops, back in the net, Brodzinski got his second goal at 18:03.
"We did have a push in the third, but it was too late,'' UND coach Brad Berry said..