NCAA Hockey Tournament 2012: Gophers Defeat Boston U 7-3; Face UND Sunday

In the 2004 movie "Miracle," there's a scene where a Boston University and a Minnesota player get into a fight during a Team USA scrimmage. While the two teams were hated rivals in the 1970s - especially due to the Gophers' 1976 national championship win - Saturday's game in 2012 fits right in.

In a penalty-filled game at the Xcel Energy Center that saw the two teams combine for 47 penalty minutes, Minnesota defeated Boston University 7-3 Saturday. Jake Hansen (Columbus Blue Jackets) scored twice for the Gophers and Kent Patterson (Colorado Avalanche) made 31 saves as the team won their first NCAA Tournament game since 2007.

They face North Dakota Sunday at 4:30 in the West Region final for a Frozen Four berth in Tampa. UND beat Western Michigan 3-1 earlier in the day.

Kyle Rau (Florida Panthers), who scored the first goal for Minnesota last game, did so again 5:55 into the game when he found the puck in front of the net after Terriers goalie Kieran Millan (Colorado) could not control the rebound.

"It seems to be an open spot and I just look tor some open ice [in front of the net] because obviously I am a smaller guy," Rau said of his 18th goal of the season. "I will just get knocked down and out-muscled, so I just have to find the open ice around the net and it has been open most of the time. Hopefully I get a couple tomorrow like that."

It was the only goal of the first period but both teams had their chances with the man advantage. Boston University were unable to take advantage of four power plays before Wade Megan (Florida) buried an Adam Clendening (Chicago Blackhawks) shot off the post to tie the game at 1 less than 8 minutes into the second.

Megan's goal set off a six-minute stretch where the goal judges were kept busy. Jake Parenteau scored his second goal of the season on a wrister to give Minnesota a 2-1 lead and then promptly gave the puck away to BU's Ross Gaudet to tie the game back up at 2. It was followed by two power play goals by Seth Helgeson (New Jersey Devils and Hansen on two separate penalties in 29 seconds to end the second period up 4-2.

"Any time it seemed like we had some momentum, it seemed like they got a goal and countered," said Gaudet.

BU came out strong in the third, scoring an early power play goal to get within one, but that was as close as they got. Clendening, who was the Terriers' best player on the ice, scored his 4th goal of the season on a slap shot 7 seconds into yet another Minnesota penalty kill (their tenth of eleven Saturday afternoon).

The Gophers blew a three goal lead last weekend against North Dakota but made sure they didn't do it again. Minnesota, who has been one of the best third period teams in college hockey this season, showed why against Boston University, out-shooting them 19-13. As a team they kept winning puck battles in the corners and guys like Nate Condon were out-muscling Terrier defensemen for pucks behind the net.

Nico Sacchetti (Dallas Stars) scored on a rush 8:08 into the third period to make the score 5-3 and Hansen and Nick Bjugstad added empty-netter goals for the final score.

In the end, Minnesota-Boston University was a "bizarre game," as legendary BU coach Jack Parker put it. At times it resembled old-time hockey with chippy penalties and scraps after the whistle while others showcased speed on both ends and quality open ice play. Honestly, it's too bad these teams don't play each other more often because there would be more scenes like the one in "Miracle."

For more NCAA Hockey tournament coverage, you can also follow SB Nation Boston for the BU side of the game and SB Nation's NHL hub for a national college hockey perspective.

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