Minnesota-North Dakota rivalry: Top 3 series wins by each program

Minnesota's Seth Ambroz celebrates Justin Holl's game-winning goal against North Dakota's Zane Gothberg on Thursday, April 10, 2014, during the NCAA Frozen Four at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pa. David Samson / The Forum

By Jess Myers and Brad Schlossman

MINNEAPOLIS — The University of Minnesota first met North Dakota on a hockey rink on Feb. 4, 1930, in a 6-1 home win for the Gophers. By the time the now-Fighting Hawks board a northwest-bound bus on Friday night, these two neighborhood rivals will have faced each other 298 times, with the Gophers currently holding a 148-132-16 lead in the all-time series.

In addition to hundreds of games played in their respective home rinks in Grand Forks, N.D., and Minneapolis, Minnesota and North Dakota have met 10 times in St. Paul, Minn., and have faced off in Minot, N.D.; Eveleth, Minn.; Detroit; Columbus, Ohio; Denver; Philadelphia and Las Vegas.

The Rink Live writers Jess Myers (who covers the Gophers) and Brad Schlossman (who covers the Hawks) took a look back at those 296 previous meetings to develop their list of the top three wins by each program versus the other.

Top 3 Minnesota wins

> March 23, 1979. Minnesota 4, North Dakota 3, for the NCAA Championship. In what would be legendary coach Herb Brooks’ final game behind the Gophers bench, they built a 3-1 first period lead at Olympia Stadium in Detroit, then all but put the game away early in the third period via Neal Broten’s famous goal, scored while falling down, when he swung his stick just right and popped a shot over sprawling UND goalie Bob Iwabuchi. It capped a run of three NCAA titles in six seasons for the Gophers. Eight of those 1979 Gophers and UND’s Dave Christian would play for Brooks in the Olympics a season later, and capture the Miracle on Ice, while UND would win three of the next eight NCAA hockey titles under Gino Gasparini.

> April 10, 2014. Minnesota 2, North Dakota 1 in the NCAA Frozen Four semifinals. Due to the teams switching conferences, they weren’t supposed to face each other in the 2013-14 season, but fate stepped in to have these neighborhood rivals meet up in Philadelphia with a trip to the NCAA title game on the line. By most accounts, UND held the better of play, even though the game was scoreless after 40 minutes. Tied 1-1, Minnesota had to kill a penalty in the final two minutes of regulation, and got a miracle win when Justin Holl got his first goal of the season on a shot through a crowd that crossed the goal line with .6 seconds on the clock. The fairytale ended two nights later, when Union beat the Gophers 7-4 in the NCAA title game.

> March 17, 2007. Minnesota 3, North Dakota 2, OT, for the WCHA Final Five Championship. Before a packed house of more than 19,000 at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, these two heavyweights needed more than 60 minutes to decide who would get the Broadmoor Trophy. Minnesota led 2-1 in the third period before Ryan Duncan — who would win the Hobey Baker Award a few weeks later — tied it for UND with his 30th goal of the season. The Gophers had the only four shots of overtime. The fourth of those came when Blake Wheeler seemed to channel Neal Broten for the winner. Working through UND defender Brian Lee who was forcing him wide, Wheeler went down, but his wild stick swing popped the puck over goalie Jean-Philippe Lamoureux.

Top 3 North Dakota wins

> April 7, 2005. North Dakota 4, Minnesota 2, in the NCAA Frozen Four semifinals. The second-ever NCAA Frozen Four meeting between the teams came in the All-WCHA Frozen Four in Columbus in 2005. Roseau’s Erik Fabian, who scored two goals during the regular season, surprisingly buried the first two of the game — one in the first, one in the second. Travis Zajac scored twice in the opening five minutes of the third — once shorthanded, once on the power play — to stake UND to a four-goal lead. Drew Stafford assisted on both of Zajac’s goals. The Gophers scored twice late. Two days later, UND lost in the national championship game to Denver.

> March 25, 2007. North Dakota 3, Minnesota 2, OT, for the NCAA West Regional title. One week after Wheeler scored his famous diving overtime goal to give Minnesota a 3-2 victory over UND in the Final Five title game, UND turned the tables in Denver’s Pepsi Center. With a trip to the NCAA Frozen Four on the line, UND captain Chris Porter sent his team to St. Louis with an overtime winner. Porter beat Gophers defenseman Erik Johnson wide, wrapped the puck around the net and scored on Minnesota goalie Jeff Frazee five-hole. UND’s players stormed off the bench to celebrate with Porter and hit him so hard into the boards that he cut his lip.

> March 16, 2012. North Dakota 6, Minnesota 3, in the WCHA Final Five semifinals. UND had so many injuries during the 2011-12 season that it didn’t have enough healthy bodies to fill out a full lineup for the playoffs. It appeared that UND was about to run out of gas in the semifinals in the Xcel Energy Center as the Gophers built a 3-0 lead in the second period and handily dominated shots. But after an icing call and a Dave Hakstol timeout, UND flipped the game, scoring six consecutive goals — five in the third period — to beat the Gophers. UND outshot Minnesota 17-2 in the final 20 minutes and used two goals by Mario Lamoureux and one each by Derek Forbort, Michael Parks, Brock Nelson and Corban Knight to get the win. It was the last game UND ever played against Minnesota wearing its Fighting Sioux jerseys.

Jess Myers (@JessRMyers) can be reached at jmyers@forumcomm.com.

Brad Schlossman (@SchlossmanGF) can be reached at BSchlossman@gfherald.com or (701) 780-1129.

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