As a dedicated Minnesota Gopher Hockey fan, I have been licking my wounds the last few days. The second-ranked University of Minnesota men's hockey team saw its season come to an end last weekend as sixth-ranked North Dakota Fighting Sioux edged the Gophers 3-2 in an overtime blitz in the 2007 NCAA West Regional Championship Game at Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. Minnesota tied the game at 2-2 with seven minutes to go in the third period to push the game to overtime where Chris Porter scored on a wraparound to give the Fighting Sioux a berth in the 2007 NCAA Frozen Four.
Minnesota finished its season as the 2006-07 WCHA Regular Season and Playoff Champions and recorded the most wins in a season since the 2001-02 national champion squad went 32-8-4. The game marked the final contest for Minnesota's two seniors - defenseman Mike Vannelli and goaltender Kellen Briggs – both players will be deeply missed next year.
The Fighting Sioux have definitely been worthy opponents this year after they swept the Gophers at home a few weeks back, but the Gophs responded with a victory over them in the WCHA playoffs and I was expecting a hard fought game in the regionals for sure. I have to admit I was shocked the Gophers ended the season outside of the Frozen Four, but I wish the University of North Dakota much luck this weekend in St Louis – if it can’t be the Gophers, then let it be the Sioux!