A Minnesota Hat Trick
Trio of Gophers Third Liners Score in Regional Final Win
by Eric Stromgren/CHN Writer
ST. PAUL, Minn. Taylor Matson, Nate Condon and Travis Boyd are not relied on to score goals.
They know that.
But each scored a goal and let loose some frustration in Minnesota's 5-2 victory over North Dakota on Sunday in the West Regional Final to put the Gophers in the Frozen Four.
"It's been a while since our line got some scoring and we've taken it on our own — we had to end our streak," said Condon, who has 11 goals this season. "I didn't expect three goals to come from us, but it was a heck of a night for us."
The trio scored in order to help the Gophers pull away from North Dakota and avenge last week's WCHA Final Five quarterfinal loss. It started with Matson's goal at 9:08 of the second the second period. Boyd followed five minutes later with his first career goal by tipping Condon's shot at the front of the net for his first career goal to put Minnesota up 4-1.
"It was about time," said Boyd, who played 34 games this season. "I was definitely frustrated going through it that long, but I stuck with it and I finally got that bounce."
Boyd, a freshman, was moved to center Matson, the captain, and Condon on the third line for this week's regional because Gophers head coach Don Lucia was looking to shake up the lineup and find a spark.
Matson, who has eight goals and 23 points on the year, played the previous 17 games without a goal and was moved from center to right wing.
"We were a little concerned moving Taylor to the wing, but he played as a wing last year at the end of the year before he got hurt and played very well there," Lucia said. "We were obviously concerned moving a freshman back up into the middle and how is he going to defend and all that. I thought Travis did a good job."
Condon assisted on Minnesota's second goal in Friday's 7-3 win over Boston University and put North Dakota down 5-1 with 4:07 left in the game when he skated in off the wing and beat goalie Aaron Dell with a wrist shot.
Condon and Matson, roommates away from the rink, have played together on the third line for the Gophers all season. Matson said the two are like "brothers" on the ice and that relationship is a big reason why the two are key to the power play and penalty killing units.
Matson talked about the confidence the trio have playing together.
"We've had good chemistry throughout the entire week and we knew we could score goals," Matson said. "We just had to get the momentum going. Last night we had some good chances, we stayed with the same game plan tonight and fortunately we had some good bounces."
The Gophers are the highest-scoring team in the WCHA this season and had 149 goals entering the regional final against North Dakota. Condon and Matson had 17 of those goals.
Condon, a sophomore, is hoping the third line can continue to contribute in Tampa Bay in Minnesota's first Frozen Four appearance since 2005.
"I think we can (contribute)," Condon said. "I think we have the ability to. If we bring our A-game, we know the top two lines are expected to get some scoring. If we can add some scoring and stay positive during the game, it's just going to be even better for us. If we can get scoring in, all the better for us."
Boyd, a Hopkins, Minn., native, said he has strong memories growing up and watching the Gophers win national championships in 2002 and 2003.
"It was a dream of mine to get there," Boyd said. "Now that we're going down there we have to keep on going. We're not going down there for the weather. We're going down there to win."