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Fargo North grad spectator of rioting

MINNEAPOLIS -- Shop owners swept up broken glass and repaired storefronts near the University of Minnesota on Sunday, one day after a celebration for the Gophers' second straight NCAA hockey championship turned into a window-smashing, rock-throwi...

MINNEAPOLIS -- Shop owners swept up broken glass and repaired storefronts near the University of Minnesota on Sunday, one day after a celebration for the Gophers' second straight NCAA hockey championship turned into a window-smashing, rock-throwing melee. Police reported 11 arrests.

Minnesota beat New Hampshire 5-1 in Buffalo, N.Y., on Saturday, setting off celebrations.

Samuel Stewart, a Fargo North graduate and a University of Minnesota freshman, said he and another student observed the rioting near campus Saturday night.

Venturing out from his Sanford Hall dorm once he saw a large bonfire, Stewart said police tried to disperse both the rioters and observers.

"There were points where I was like, 'Whoa, we may be too close,'" Stewart said.

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Stewart said he saw at least three bonfires at three intersections.

Once police dispersed a crowd from one bonfire, Stewart said, the rioters went to the next intersection where they overturned cars, lit Dumpsters on fire and tore street signs from their posts.

"For a while, the police didn't do anything, but the crowd was getting rowdier," Stewart said. "I saw someone's car get flipped over in the intersection."

In addition to setting fire to Dumpsters and mattresses, five vehicles, including one owned by a local television station, were set ablaze. Emergency workers were pelted with bottles, rocks and chunks of concrete, but fire officials reported no injuries.

Firefighters trying to enter the area Saturday were escorted by police in riot gear. The windshield of one fire truck was smashed, fire department spokeswoman Kristi Rollwagen said.

The damage occurred in Dinkytown, a small business area that borders the campus, which was also the scene of violence after last year's championship victory.

J.J. Thoele, a university sophomore, said he watched the game from his dorm room and then headed to Dinkytown.

"It's insane. It's just kids being retarded," he said. "They're trying to copy last year, they're trying to break a lot of stuff and cost the 'U' money. It's absolutely ridiculous."

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Near Dinkytown, Stewart said rioters weren't yelling Gopher fight songs anymore, instead they began chanting "USA, USA, USA!"

Police at an intersection sprayed mace and fired beanbag rounds from shotguns, he said, trying to disperse a crowd from a Starbucks parking lot.

A man wearing a backpack on a nearby sidewalk who "didn't appear to be part of the riot," Stewart said, received a "face full of Mace," from one officer, only to be sprayed again as the police moved forward.

Stewart, who was across the street, said he and his group caught the irritant downwind. Stewart said police approached them, firing a beanbag round, which struck a man in his group.

"It was pretty frightening. We just booked it under the bridge and kept our heads down for a while," he said.

Stewart said the campus newspaper, The Minnesota Daily, published articles during the week urging fans to refrain from such activity should the Gophers win.

The university also set up viewing at Mariucci Arena, which Stewart said drew a small crowd.

Minneapolis police spokesman Ron Reier said he expects charges to be filed against arrested. He said it took 100 officers to restore order to a crowd that was estimated at 2,000.

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Police made 45 arrests and property damaged reached $40,000 after last year's championship win over Maine.

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