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East Side Gopher fans vindicated with last-second goal

Joe Black's in downtown Grand Forks was packed with hockey fans Thursday night to watch the NCAA Forzen four matchup between North Dakota and Minnesota.JOHN STENNES/GRAND FORKS HERALD1 / 4
Minnesota Gopher hockey fans Ricky Seydel, Matt Bubendorf and Mike Carlson (left to right), all form East Grand Forks, watch the Minnesota/North Dakota hockey game Thursday night at Joe Black's in downtown Grand Forks.JOHN SETNNES/GRAND FORKS 2 / 4
UND fan Brea Wike (center) comes out of her seat at Joe Black's in Grand Forks as she and friend Michael Gilchrist (right) watch UND's second period powerplay against Minnesota in the NCAA Frozen four Thursday night.JOHN STENNES/GRAND FORKS HERALD3 / 4
UND hockey fans Brea Wike, Michael Gilchrist and Shane Hersch (left to right) watch the second period of UND's Final Four game against Minnesota at Joe Black's in downtown Grand Forks Thursday night.JOHN STENNES/GRAND FORKS HERALD4 / 4

In the sea of hundreds of people watching the renewal of the UND-Minnesota hockey rivalry Thursday night at Joe Black’s Bar & Grill in downtown Grand Forks, only four were wearing maroon-and-gold garb.

There may have been more Gophers backers than the four in a crowd that obviously didn’t include an on-duty fire marshal. If so, they weren’t advertising their allegiance by the color of their attire.

“I don’t really want to be here because it’s just me and a couple of friends and the rest are UND fans,” said Matt Bubendorf, 28, of East Grand Forks. “I’m going to get barked at all night.”

The barking proved to be worth the hassle when the Gophers scored a goal in regulation time’s final second to defeat stunned UND 2-1, leading to groans and disbelief from the majority of the crowd and the unadulterated glee by the handful of maroon-and-gold loyalists.

The outcome was frosting on Bubendorf’s decision to take a vacation day from work so he could watch both semifinal games of the Frozen Four. He said he was steeled for the inevitable grief from the majority of the Joe Black’s customers if his team lost.

“I live in Minnesota, I love the ‘M,’ and I’m not afraid to show my colors,” Bubendorf said. “The UND-Minnesota rivalry is great.”

His buddies — fellow East Siders Mike Carlson, 33 and Ricky Seydel, 24 — had a different take on the environment before the dramatic conclusion.

“I came out to hang out with the hostiles,” Carlson said. “It gets a little crazy, but it’s always fun.”

Carlson and Seydel estimated that 15 percent of East Grand Forks residents favor the Gophers over UND. “And most of that 15 percent are watching the game at home,” Carlson said.

“The reason I like to go out to watch the game is the atmosphere and the fact that there’s a lot of hockey knowledge in the room.”

There also was a lot of attention given to the 15 big screens in the room. While regular-season games are often social events more than sporting events, there was limited chatter during action at Joe Black’s with a spot in the national title game on the line.

Said Seydel, before the dramatic conclusion: “We don’t care if we get heckled or not. Being here is more like being at the actual game.”