The fourth-ranked and top-seeded Minnesota men's hockey team dropped a 6-3 decision to North Dakota at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul on Friday night in the WCHA Final Five semifinal. After staking claim to a 3-0 lead midway through regulation, the Gophers allowed six goals in the final 34:51.
For the third consecutive time in postseason play, Minnesota opened the scoring.
Working on a power play 12:37 into the contest, Kyle Rau took a feed from Erik Haula and walked in on UND goaltender Aaron Dell. Rau deked to the left and beat Dell down low to put the Gophers in front.
After outshooting North Dakota 12-2 in the opening frame, the Gophers got off to a solid start in the middle frame.
On what would end up being its fourth and final man advantage opportunity of the night, senior Jake Hansen tipped home a shot from Haula to give his team a 2-0 lead.
Minnesota made it a three-goal game one second past the halfway point in regulation when redshirt sophomore Zach Budish converted on a pass from Justin Holl on the tail end of a three-on-one odd-man rush.
North Dakota picked up play after falling behind by three and got on the board when Derek Forbort's shot from the point hit a Minnesota defender and went off the right post and in with 4:09 left in the second.
The Gophers held maintained a 3-1 lead heading into the final frame, but UND would strike early and often.
Michael Parks made it a one goal game when a Carter Rowney centering pass hit his skate and went in. Sophomore Brock Nelson tied the score 30 seconds later with his 26th goal of the season.
Before the midway point of the period, Mario Lamoureux put North Dakota ahead 4-3 by deflecting home a pass from Stephane Pattyn in front.
Corban Knight tacked on another goal 37 seconds later and Lamoureux capped the scoring with 3:50 remaining to make for a 6-3 final.
The Gophers dropped to 18-2-0 when leading after two periods and were outshot 19-2 after Forbort got UND on the scoreboard.
Minnesota will pick up play next Saturday at the Xcel Energy Center in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The tournament's selection show will air on Sunday at 11 a.m. on ESPNU.
Gophers Fall in Series Opener
The series concludes on Sunday, Nov. 29 with a 6 p.m. puck drop at Mariucci Arena.
Gopher Hockey Live: SCSU
Follow the action as the Gophers open the weekend series with St. Cloud State on Friday.
Rinkside: Brodzinski Thrives in New Role
The Minnesota junior leads all Big Ten defensemen with eight points this season.