Five highlights from around the country:
1. Notre Dame went to Christmas break 14-4. Since opening up the second half with two three-game weeks (Tuesday, Friday, Saturday), the Irish are 1-5. They lost 2-1 to Fairbanks on Saturday, their fourth loss in a row.
2. Boston College, apparently upset by recent struggles, took out its frustration on Northeastern in a 9-3 victory. Steven Whitney with the hat trick and four points.
3. St. Cloud State, UND’s next opponent, will come in red hot after becoming the first WCHA team to sweep Denver in 60 league series — a span that dates back to 2008. The Huskies are tied with Minnesota for first place.
4. Nic Kerdiles finally knows what it feels like to lose a college hockey game. Wisconsin, which had been 8-0-3 since Kerdiles became eligible, lost 2-1 to Miami despite a strong performance in goal by Joel Rumpel.
5. Behind two goals by Derek Army, Providence upset New Hampshire 6-5. The Wildcats yanked starting goalie Casey DeSmith after allowing four goals on 15 shots.
Top WCHA performers
3 points — Drew LeBlanc, SCSU, 1 goal, 2 assists
3 points — Ben Hanowski, SCSU, 1 goal, 2 assists
3 points — Alexander Krushelnyski, CC, 1 goal, 2 assists
3 points — Rylan Schwartz, CC, 3 assists
2 points — David Morley, SCSU, 2 goals
2 points — Zach Palmquist, MSU, 2 goals
UND 4, Minnesota 4
In a highly entertaining game that left everyone buzzing in Mariucci Arena, the Gophers rallied for a 4-4 tie thanks to a goal by Nate Condon with 2:58 left in regulation. Rocco Grimaldi and Danny Kristo both rang shots off the post in overtime and the game ended in a tie. Game stories:
- Everyone leaving the rink last night talked about what a great college hockey game that was to watch. The atmosphere was outstanding. UND fans loudly chanting “Let’s Go Sioux” countered by Minnesota fans with their own “Let’s Go Gophers” chants. The arena was buzzing for almost the entire third period and overtime. It’s a shame if they don’t find a way to play this every year starting in 2016-17.
- The game felt a little like Saturday night’s last year in Mariucci Arena to me. UND had the lead, Minnesota was pushing hard and you just felt like at some point they were going to break through. UND didn’t lose this one, but Rocco Grimaldi said it felt a little like that after the game.
- Speaking of Grimaldi, he was really dynamic during the game and nearly won it in overtime. His shot hit the post, though. His goal was a big-time shot.
- Minnesota always seems to be known as a high flying offensive team, but what stood out to me was their defense. They have more big, strong players than they have recently and they make it difficult to get to the net. They also win more battles in the corners than they used to.
- The Gopher defensemen also were very active in holding the blue line and pinching. It led to them sustaining offensive possession sometimes, but freshmen Brady Skjei and Mike Reilly also got caught on two of UND’s goals.
- Minnesota had the better of the first period, outshooting UND 13-5. After that, shots were 8-8 in the second and 13-13 in the third. I thought UND had the best of play in the overtime.
- Zane Gothberg allowed four goals, but is perhaps starting to make a run at the No. 1 job. He played pretty well. And he got a piece of two of the four goals he allowed. I have a feeling there’s going to be a good battle for that No. 1 job here.
- Colten St. Clair came back into the lineup and did a fantastic job. I thought he provided a ton of energy throughout the night for UND.
- UND only had 1:04 of power play time in the game, so there wasn’t much of a chance to establish special teams.
- A lot of people have been ragging on UND’s defensive corps. I think a lot of what we saw this weekend had to do with Minnesota’s big forwards. Zach Budish is a big guy who won two puck battles and made two really good feeds for two Minnesota goals on Saturday.
- Minnesota coach Don Lucia didn’t seem to think Adam Wilcox was very sharp — pointing to the two posts in overtime as evidence.
- UND doesn’t have much of a chance to come down off of this big rivalry series. Next up: the team that’s tied with Minnesota for first place, St. Cloud State. Coach Dave Hakstol didn’t think it would be any problem refocusing for another big series at home.