Final Five Preview: North Dakota

In one of college hockey's most heated rivalries, the Gophers face off against the Fighting Sioux in the Final Five. The puck will drop at 7:07 CT from the Xcel Energy Center and will be broadcast on Fox Sports North.

Minnesota (26-12-1 overall, 20-8-0 WCHA) vs. North Dakota (23-12-3 overall, 16-11-1 WCHA)
St. Paul, Minnesota – Xcel Energy Center
Friday 7:07 p.m. CT – Fox Sports North

PREGAME NOTES

Storyline: This is the first meeting between these two teams since a postgame fight in the handshake line between Ben Blood and a number of Gophers following Minnesota's 6-2 victory in Grand Forks. Always a heated rivalry, the Gophers and Sioux will sure to be ready for an intense, physical game on Friday night.

Season to Date: North Dakota has been one of the hottest teams in the country recently. Their last loss came on February 25 to Denver. Since then, the Fighting Sioux have rattled off five straight wins. After a rough start and a bevy of injuries, North Dakota has battled back to a Final Five appearance and a likely trip to the NCAA Tournament.

Coaching Preview: Dave Hakstol is in his eight season leading North Dakota and has posted an impressive overall record of 210-105-30. Hakstol has reached the Frozen Four in five of his seven seasons at North Dakota. He holds two regular season WCHA titles and three WCHA playoffs championships. Hakstol's teams are always prepared to play physical, especially against the neighboring Gophers.

Last Meeting: The last meeting between the two rivals came in North Dakota with each squad notching a victory. The Fighting Sioux took the opener by a score of 2-1 in a very close battle. The Gophers came back on Saturday, dominating North Dakota 6-2, giving the Maroon and Gold a 3-1 advantage in the season series.

Series History: Minnesota has faced North Dakota more than any other opponent with a total of 285 games played between the two teams. The Gophers currently hold the edge in the series by a tally of 144-129-14.

Scoring Threat: Sophomore Brock Nelson has emerged as one of the nation's top goal scorers. This season, the Warroad (Minn.) native has tallied an impressive 25 goals to go with 17 assissts.

Streaking Sioux: The Fighting Sioux have only lost two times in their past 14 games including the WCHA playoffs. The late-season push is typical of North Dakota who will be playing their best hockey of the year when they take the ice against the Gophers.

Quotable: "They're a good team and have been playing well lately. We've got to focus ourselves in tonight and tomorrow on their style and their game. We've got to come out ready to play at the drop of the puck and play the full 60 minutes." – Brock Nelson on the Gophers following North Dakota's 4-1 victory over St. Cloud in the Final Five.

Background:
Location: Grand Forks, N.D.
Enrollment: 14,697
Conference: WCHA
Mascot: Fighting Sioux
Colors: Green, White, and Black
Coach: Dave Hakstol (8th Season)


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