Observations from Minnesota's 2-1 Loss to North Dakota

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Close Contest(s)
Not surprisingly, after 2-0 and 3-2 decisions at Mariucci Arena in November, North Dakota and Minnesota played another tight affair on Friday. Friday's game marked the 99th game between the Gophers and UND that was decided by one goal or ended in a tie. Minnesota is now 44-41 all-time in one-goal games (11-6 under head coach Don Lucia) against North Dakota.
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Entering the night, Nick Bjugstad, Kyle Rau, and Travis Boyd were the only Gophers to have a point-per-game average against UND. Rau kept up his pace by scoring the game's first goal and Bjugstad did the same by earning a second assist on it. Freshman Boyd, who recorded assists in both games in November, was unable to do the same. The only player on the UND roster with a point-per-game average against Minnesota is Rocco Grimaldi, who scored a goal in his only game against UM on Nov. 5, 2011. Grimaldi did not play on Friday.

Tough Near the Top
The better you play, the more the target on your back grows, especially when you're playing a big rival. That has proven to be true for the Gophers against UND during Don Lucia's time behind the Minnesota bench. The Gophers are 4-2-0 as the No. 5 team in the nation (where they are currently ranked) and 10-11-1 as a top-five team against North Dakota under Lucia.

Not Our Night
Friday nights have given Minnesota a tough time in 2011-12. The Gophers dropped to 7-5-0 on Fridays with Friday night's loss. UM is 8-2-1 on Saturdays and lost its only Sunday contest of the year to Vermont on Oct. 23 by a 5-4 score. Though the Gophers are better on Saturdays, they will be looking to win snap a two-game losing streak on that day of the week tomorrow after losing to Northeastern and Notre Dame on their previous two Saturday games. Minnesota is also in search of its first win in 2012.

No Sweep This Time
Minnesota swept North Dakota at home for the first time since Nov. 8-9, 1996 and for the first time overall since Dec. 9-10, 2005 earlier in the season, but will not be going for one tomorrow after Friday's loss. Instead, the Gophers will try to avoid being swept by UND for the first time since Jan 9-10, 2009. Though Minnesota lost its opportunity to pull off its first four-game regular-season sweep of North Dakota since 1991-92, it can still win the regular-season series outright for the first time since 2005-06 with a win or tie on Saturday.

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