View From North Dakota

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The Gophers head to rival North Dakota this weekend. Minnesota won both games against North Dakota in November at Mariucci Arena and leads the all-time series 142-128-14. To find out what North Dakota has been up to since it left Minneapolis we talked with esteemed Grand Forks Herald reporter Brad Elliott Schlossman. You can follow Brad on Twitter here.
Go Gophers! schlossman
Go Gophers!
You can follow Grand Forks Herald reporter Brad Elliott Schlossman on Twitter here.
Go Gophers!

GopherSports: How has North Dakota fared since they played the Gophers earlier this year?

Brad Elliott Schlossman: When UND left Mariucci, it was 3-6-1. Since then, the team has gone 8-2-1. So, things have turned around a little bit. I would say the biggest difference is that the team started to find ways to win. Early in the season, it seemed they were finding ways to lose games. They lost 5-4 to Wisconsin, despite outshooting the Badgers 42-15. The next weekend, they lost 4-0 to St. Cloud, despite outshooting the Huskies 44-23. The weekend after that, they lost 3-2 to Minnesota in a game they led with 6:05 to go. Heading to Thanksgiving weekend, UND was 1-3 in one-goal games. Since then, UND is 3-1 in one-goal games. Early on, they lost a lot of very winnable games. Lately, they've been finding ways to pull them out.

GS: North Dakota has had a string of injuries this year. Is there a player who has stepped up once he was given an opportunity?

BES: Freshman forward Connor Gaarder (high school teammate of Zach Budish at Edina). He was a late addition to the roster in the summer as a walk-on and he was scratched in nine of the team's first 10 games, including both in Mariucci Arena. Since that series, he has been in the lineup every night and has even been on the second power-play unit in recent weeks. Gaarder has six points in the last six games. He's not going to take over a game and dominate or anything, but he's been very reliable, he makes good, strong plays with the puck and he can chip in offensively from time to time.

GS: Has North Dakota changed the way it has played or are they doing anything differently than from the beginning of the year?

BES: The biggest difference in the team between then and now is probably that they've been able to add more offense. You wouldn't expect that considering they've played without first-line center Corban Knight, preseason rookie of the year Rocco Grimaldi, first-round pick Derek Forbort, fifth-round pick Derek Rodwell and captain Mario Lamoureux for some or all of that stretch, but somehow, they've been getting it done. I don't expect them to make any changes to the way they play from the November series, but they certainly need to continue to produce more offensively.

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