Green and White splits rivalry matchup

Amy Menke fights for the puck in a game against Minnesota over the weekend. Photo by Nick Nelson/ The Dakota Student

After a whirlwind weekend, UND split the series with the undefeated Gophers. The Green and White came out with a sluggish start on Friday and Minnesota took every opportunity and capitalized on all the chances that the home squad gave them.

UND would surrender the first game 5-1. However, the series took an unexpected turn in game two when UND stunned the gophers with a 4-3 triumph.

North Dakota had a hard time keeping up with the fast-paced Gophers and the score proved just that, as they ended the first period losing 3-0. Minor improvements showed, as the Green and White found a way to hold Minnesota to a goal in each of the remaining periods and get one past the strong goaltending skills of Gopher goaltender Amanda Leveille, for the 5-1 final.

UND took the loss in stride and put on a display for Saturday’s Pack the Ralph match. With a whopping 3,361 in attendance, the squad had nothing but fan support to cheer loud and proud for them.

An early five-minute major and ejection of senior defenseman Tanja Eisenschmid put UND in a tight spot. The team battled off the time allowing Minnesota to only get one shot in on Amsley-Benzie.

“Killing off the five minute penalty, that really gave us a big momentum swing,” Amy Menke said.

Momentum carried on into the second and third periods and brought a serious character win for the team.

“It’s a wide open game, and we probably saw more good looks this weekend in both games than we’ve probably seen in the first month,” UND Coach Brian Idalski said.  “It’s just the style of play; it’s up and down hockey that’s a skating game. We haven’t played that all year, and we want to skate.“

Minnesota made it on the board first scoring a single goal in the first period, but Menke managed to tie it up early in the second.

The game would change in a matter of nine chaotic seconds when Meghan Dufault scored a pair of goals back-to-back. UND now lead 3-1 and had a handle on Minnesota for the first time since meeting them this same time last year.

After the explosion of energy, the pressure was on as the arena felt the excitement and the players fed off the energy. Amsley-Benzie managed to hold the Gophers at bay by making some point-blank saves and robbed Minnesota of some crucial shots.

With 1:38 left on the board, Minnesota pulled Leveille and put six skaters on five pressure in the UND zone.

“They are a skilled team, and when they have six players against five it’s pretty intense,” Dufault said. “We were just trying to box them out, keep their shots away from the goal.”

The Green and White managed to hold the Gophers and take the win.  

For the first time since 2014 when Minnesota took a loss from Clarkson College 5-1, the Gophers take a loss of more than four goals.

“We knew coming in that we could compete with them,” Dufault said. “Being able to beat them has reassured us with the confidence that we can beat any team in the league moving forward we need to use that and be confident in ourselves and be confident in our teammates. We can do some special things.”

North Dakota will have the weekend off next week before playing at home against Ohio State the weekend of Oct. 14-15. Puck drop for the first game is set for 2:07 p.m.

Allyson Bento is a sports writer for The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected]