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Brad E. Schlossman /. Forum Communications Co., Published January 15 2011

Ralph role reversal: Gophers stay above .500 while handing Sioux their first loss since Nov. 20

GRAND FORKS – Matt Frattin’s goal-scoring streak is over.

So is the longest unbeaten streak in the country.

The University of North Dakota men’s hockey team lost a 3-2 decision to rival Minnesota on Friday night, ending a nine-game unbeaten stretch that dated back to before Thanksgiving.

The unranked Gophers used goals from Mike Hoeffel, Jake Hansen and Nico Sacchetti to become the first team to beat the second-ranked Sioux since Nov. 20, when the University of Nebraska-Omaha scored with three-tenths of a second left in the game.

“We had a good run there for a while,” said UND senior Brad Malone, who scored a goal. “But right now, it’s pretty bitter. We have 24 hours here to regroup, get refocused and get ready for another 60-minute war. We have to play a full 60 minutes tomorrow. That’s pretty crucial.”

The Sioux (16-6-2) didn’t think they did that in the series opener.

Minnesota outshot and outchanced UND in the opening period while building a 2-0 lead. The Sioux managed to catch up on goals by Malone and Jason Gregoire, who returned from a seven-game absence on Friday night.

But soon after Gregoire’s tying goal early in the third, Derek Rodwell was called for tripping, and the Gophers capitalized on the power play.

“The difference in the game was the first 20 minutes,” UND coach Dave Hakstol said. “We gave up a two-goal lead and we never did play the type of game we wanted to in that first period. We tried to fight back and we played a pretty good two periods in the second and third, but we made too many mistakes that led to penalties and we couldn’t come all the way back.”

For Minnesota, the victory was a relief.

It allowed the 10-8-3 Gophers to stay above .500, and it perhaps erased some ugly memories in this building. UND ended Minnesota’s season here a year ago and held a 5-1-1 mark against the Gophers in Engelstad Arena in the last seven games. Many of them were blowouts.

This time, they got to Sioux goalie Aaron Dell – who recently posted a shutout streak of 224 minutes and 31 seconds – early in the game.

And they held Frattin without a goal, snapping his eight-game streak. Frattin nearly tied the longest goal streak of the last 59 years in the second period, but his point shot rang off the inside of the post.

The game had a little bit of an old-school element to it as well.

At the end of the second period, Malone delivered a huge hit on Minnesota defenseman Kevin Wehrs. He did not draw a penalty on the play, but he did draw the ire of the Gophers bench and a scrum ensued. Both teams’ benches cleared.

“I know all the fans and everyone loves that,” Gregoire said. “But that’s what they want to do. They are trying to get us off our game.”

FIRST PERIOD: 1, M, Hoeffel, (Larson, Bjugstad), 11:22. 2, M, Hansen, (Cepis, Haula), 15:51, pp.

SECOND PERIOD: 3, ND, Malone, (Genoway, Kristo), 13:54, pp.

THIRD PERIOD: 4, ND, Gregoire, (Hextall, Trupp), 1:31, pp. 5, M, Sacchetti, (Ness, Barriball), 4:45, pp.

SAVES: M, Patterson 10-15-10-35. ND, Dell 10-8-8–26.

Inforum searchword: Sioux mens hockey

Schlossman writes for the Grand Forks Herald