Top-ranked Gophers take down No. 5 UND

No. 1 Minnesota men’s hockey got a 25-save shutout from Justen Close to silence an over-capacity crowd inside Ralph Engelstad Arena during a 4-0 victory over No. 5 North Dakota Friday night. It was Minnesota’s first shutout in Grand Forks, N.D., since Oct. 23, 2004.

Brody Lamb scored the eventual game-winning goal two minutes into the second period on a breakaway for the Golden Gophers (3-0-0 overall) and handed the Fighting Hawks their first loss of the year. The sophomore was joined by linemates Oliver Moore and Jimmy Snuggerud with multi-point performances as each player recorded a goal and an assist. After blocking 28 shots in the weekend sweep of St. Thomas, Minnesota got bodies and sticks in shooting lanes all night to block 18 UND attempts.

It was a fast start for both sides in front of a raucous crowd and Close delivered a pair of critical saves early in the contest. The graduate student continued to hold off the team in green, including on the penalty kill. During a 4-on-4 rush, Moore finally tested the UND goaltender before a brief man advantage for the Maroon and Gold was erased. Minnesota remained on the attack as the ice tilted in its favor with a Rhett Pitlick chance on the doorstep and Jimmy Clark nearly put away a rebound in the crease. The visitors were called for a penalty with one second on the clock and the game remained scoreless heading into intermission.

In the closing seconds of the UND power play, Lamb snuck behind the defense and Jaxon Nelson pushed a perfect pass up the middle. The Byron, Minn., native faked out the goalie and deposited the go-ahead tally two minutes into the stanza. The Gophers quickly found themselves on a 5-on-3 power play looking to break the game open before the Fighting Hawks fought back to even strength as the game reached the mid-point. Moore gave Minnesota a two-goal cushion at the 12:00 mark as he ripped a shot from the left circle through a screen for his first collegiate goal. As the period wound down, Lamb again found himself on a breakaway, but this time a pad save kept the Gophers’ lead at 2-0 through two periods.

It was another successful penalty kill for the Maroon and Gold as the third frame got underway and the visitors maintained the pressure as it did not sit back. Another stick infraction gave UND its fourth man advantage only to have the Gophers keep the puck out.

Facing the 2-0 deficit, the Fighting Hawks pulled their goalie, trying to generate a late attack. Bryce Brodzinski scored his first goal of the year as he lifted a shot from center ice into the open cage with 2:47 to play. Jimmy Snuggerud finished off his own rebound 18 seconds later, making it a 4-0 road victory and the sophomore delivered a goal for the third-consecutive game.