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February 3, 2008 E-MAIL PRINT Bookmark and Share

Sioux, Gophers Tussle Leads to DQs; Hakstol Apologetic

by Adam Wodon/Managing Editor

There was more to Saturday's 1-1 tie between North Dakota and Minnesota than the usual hostilities.

After a very entertaining third period and overtime, the game devolved into nonsense in the aftermath, including in the handshake line, when UND's Joe Finley and Minnesota's Blake Wheeler nearly went at it.

The Minnesota broadcasters — who I've often called the best team on TV — made a comment I took exception to. They said they figured Finley would've done something "more manly than just pull a guy's jersey." Fortunately for North Dakota, he chose smarts over manliness, and didn't get himself suspended. Certainly not something as dumb as Wheeler, who ruined a possible overtime power play because of his "manliness," when he took a retaliatory cheap shot right after a North Dakota penalty was called. That's what started the stupidity to begin with.

Call me polyanna — I've been called worse — but encouraging fighting of any sort in college hockey isn't right, whether to "spark the team," or whatever reason. Of course, hard-hitting and big emotions are part of what makes college hockey great, and there's nothing wrong with that. And that's bound to spill over into occasional "issues." But I don't think that should be encouraged or reveled in.

It got worse as the final horn sounded when Darcy Zajac cross-checked Minnesota's R.J. Anderson from behind. It looked like it may have been a reaction to the perception that Anderson stuck out his leg against UND teammate T.J. Oshie — but even if that's the case, it was probably an overreaction. (Watch video).

Tony Lucia of Minnesota and Zajac eventually did go at it, and each received game DQs, and will miss next the next game action. Both, interestingly, are against Denver, since UND has next week off.

The next day, Sioux coach Dave Hakstol publicly apologized for his actions during a "discussion" with referee Don Adam. Though he didn't specify, word is he made an obscene gesture at one point during the second period.

Hakstol said in a statement, "I'm disappointed in myself for allowing my emotions and frustrations to get the better of me. I pride myself in not allowing this type of thing to occur. ... Most importantly, I am a parent before I am a coach, and I understand the responsibility that we carry as coaches within the WCHA to young hockey fans and families everywhere. ... I have evaluated and feel terrible about my actions and can assure everyone that such a thing will never happen again."

The game started on a rough note when North Dakota's Ryan Duncan was tossed from the game just seven seconds into it for a checking from behind major penalty, a hit which may have been one of the more tame ones when seen in retrospect, and I certainly don't believe there was intent by Duncan to injure.

As for the game, there was plenty to talk about there. FSN showed an interesting stat during the game that Minnesota, despite being a .500 team, has only trailed 18 percent of the game time this season. It points out how many late losses they've had. And like Friday, Minnesota scored first only to see North Dakota tie it.

Friday, UND got the dramatic OT winner with Evan Trupp's theatrical goal, but there was none of that in this one and Minnesota settled for one point on the weekend. North Dakota's eight-game winning streak was stopped, but the Sioux have to be thrilled with three points at Mariucci.

The weekend certainly lived up to the rivalry, as we figured it would despite the records.

Credit to both goaltenders. UND's J.P. Lamoureux made a lot of great saves, but on the other end, credit as well to Alex Kangas for his continued steady presence. He has an economy of motion, and keeps his team in the game. Minnesota just can't score very much this year.

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