MINNEAPOLIS – Rivalries never get rusty.
That was never more evident than tonight at Mariucci Arena, where storied college hockey rivals North Dakota and Minnesota resumed their historic feud after a three-year absence and immediately proceeded to punch and counter-punch their way to an exhilarating 5-5 overtime tie.
The 285th varsity clash between the two teams was a one-night encapsulation of the 60-plus year rivalry, featuring 10 goals, 23 penalties, 62 penalty minutes and dueling chants between a pair of frothing-at-the mouth fanbases.
But while the product on the ice very much pleased the 9,939 in attendance, the third-ranked Fighting Hawks left the arena with a bad taste in their collective mouths after losing four leads, three in the final period.
“Guys aren’t happy,” said UND defenseman Tucker Poolman. “We felt like we left stuff on the table.”
Poolman scored what appeared to be the game-wnning goal 1:59 left in regulation, overpowering Minnesota netminder Eric Schierhorn with a wrist shot from the slot to put UND on top 5-4.
But, as they did all night, the No. 13 Golden Gophers responded immediately.
With Schierhorn on the bench for an extra attacker, Tommy Novak came off the bench and blasted a one-timer past UND goalie Cam Johnson to tie the game at 5-5 – his second goal of the game -- just 42 seconds after Poolman had given the visitors the lead.
Three times UND held a one-goal lead in the third period, and three times Minnesota was able to tie the game.
“Right now, it’s the small details that’s getting us,” said UND head coach Brad Berry. “It’s undisciplined penalties, it’s puck management in times when we need to get pucks deep. For the most part, loved our effort tonight. But we have to make sure the small details get taken care of.”
UND, which dropped a pair of losses at Minnesota Duluth last weekend, came out flying in the opening minutes tonight.
Sophomore defenseman Hayden Shaw, back in the lineup after a two-game injury absence, opened the scoring 95 seconds in when his shot from the side wall found its way through traffic and past Schierhorn.
But penalty troubles caught up to UND and Vinni Lettieri and Novak each scored with the man advantage in the final nine minutes of the period to send the teams to the locker rooms tied 2-2.
After UND was outshot 15-3 in the opening frame, things leveled out in the middle period with the Fighting Hawks holding a slim 7-6 margin in that category. Neither team found the net, setting the stage for a wild 6-goal third period.
However, the Gopher power-play responded once again, this time Tyler Sheehy lifted a backhander from the slot over Cam Johnson with 12:15 remaining.
Jost pushed UND back ahead at 11:17, walking out from the end boards, cutting through a tight space in front and wrapping the puck around the far pad of Schierhorn. With just over eight minutes left on the clock, UND was back on top courtesy of Jost’s third goal of the year.
“He’s a huge competitor. He loves this stage as far as when games are on the line,” said Berry.
However, Brent Gates, Jr., squared things up two-and-a-half minutes later with another open look from the slot. Poolman and Novak then traded their goals in the final two minutes and nothing would be decided in overtime despite a combined seven shots on goal and one last Gopher power play.
“There is a little disappointment, but knowing that we had a good effort against a very good team…we know we have to be sharper tomorrow as far as our discipline and our mindset,” said Berry.
“ We’ve got to try to control ourselves, control our emotions and have a little more discipline,” said Poolman. “They’ve got a good power play and you give a team enough chances, they’re going to score.”
Jost said he and his teammates took some time to adapt to the Olympic-sized ice surface, which is 15 feet wider than a standard, NHL-size rink.
“We had a lot of success when we got pucks deep and wore down their D and got on pucks first. That’s where we generated our offense,” said Jost. “If we tighten a few things up, stay out of the penalty box, I think it’s going to go a lot more smoothly tomorrow.
“It was fun,” continued Jost. “It was everything you expect. The crowd was into it and you could feel the bad blood out there. Having said that, it was disappointing we couldn’t seal the deal.”
Although nothing was settled on the scoreboard, Berry said games like tonight have become typical of college hockey’s best rivalry.
“They’re kind of a testament to the history and tradition of this rivalry,” said Berry. “It’s a lot of different things coming at our guys from our perspective – as well as theirs – as far as what the rivalry means. So tomorrow we’ll have to make sure we’ve got our heads together and play that 60-minute game.”
The puck drops on Saturday night at 8:05 p.m. Central.
Notes: Minnesota outshot North Dakota 37-22, although just 23-19 at even strength … Minnesota went 3-8 on the power play while UND went 1-5 … Novak, Jost and Sheehy were named the game’s three stars … Jost had a goal and two assists and is now tied for the NCHC scoring lead with 10 points in eight games. Jost and linemates Boeser (1 goal) and Shane Gersich (2 assists) combined for six points … UND’s last 3-game winless skid came in November 2013 and was eventually snapped after four games without a win.