Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 1/14/12
The Minnesota Gophers men's hockey team had been at the top of the WCHA standings all season until Friday night in Grand Forks. Warroad native Brock Nelson scored a goal late in the final period to give North Dakota an entertaining victory over Minnesota, 2-1.Meanwhile, about 500 miles away in Omaha, Neb., the hottest team in the WCHA was winning again. Minnesota-Duluth turned a tight 2-2 game into a 6-2 rout with four third-period goals to take over the top spot in the conference.Gophers head coach Don Lucia was asked if Friday night's results put added pressure on his young team. "I don't think so," said the Gophers' bench boss, "but the fact that we have lost three straight overall, all by one goal, might ramp up the stakes for our club."To Lucia's point on the close calls, Minnesota is now 15-8-1 overall and, in seven of the eight losses, it has lost by a single goal. Senior goaltender Kent Patterson was asked about the emotions of his team looking ahead. "Right now," said the netminder, "I think we are frustrated that we are letting games get away from us late. We need to be better at crunch time."Friday night the Gophers really struggled on the power-play, going 0-for-4. "There were key spots in the game," said captain Taylor Matson, "where our power-play needed to step up and we didn't get the job done."The WCHA title race is on and the defending NCAA-champion Bulldogs lead.For now however Lucia is looking for his team to show the same fight it did earlier in the season. "We need to get back to playing a more complete game right now," said said. "It's the attention to the details that will make the difference and I'm excited to see how our kids respond."
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