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In the last game of the night, Denver beat St. Cloud State 3-2. That means Minnesota’s opponent next weekend has been decided and it will be the Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves.
A night after giving up a game-tying goal in the final twenty seconds, Minnesota came back from two goals down to beat Bemidji State 3-2 Saturday night. Coupled with Wisconsin beating Colorado College 3-1, the Gophers have locked up the fifth seed for next weekend’s WCHA first round series and are waiting on their opponent.
The Beavers started the scoring off with a goal from Jeff Jubinville. Jubinville was able to get the puck past goalie Kent Patterson after a Cade Farichild turnover behind his own net. Bemidji then scored with 5:19 left in the second period on a bizarre play. A pass hit a broken stick behind the Gophers net and went right to Aaron McLeod, who made it 2-0.
After Nick Bjugstad took a penalty for hooking later in the second and things began to look grim, Minnesota began their comeback by killing a Beaver penalty – one of three tonight – and scoring on the ensuing rush. Bjugstad came out of the box to lead a 3 on 1 chance for the Gophers and put the rebound with 2:08 left for his first goal of the game.
Minnesota then took control of the game with a powerplay of their own to finish the second and began the third period by peppering shots on Bemidji goalie Dan Bakula. It appeared that the Beavers’ two goals would stand until Mike Hoeffel scored on the powerplay with 5:19 left in the game to tie things up.
After both teams had great opportunities to win, the game went to overtime where Nick Bjugstad gave Minnesota their first overtime win of the season twenty seconds into the extra period.
All in all, the Gophers have to be happy with three points on the road. They played tonight without defenseman Aaron Ness and it showed in the first period that Minnesota missed his puck moving abilities. Eventually they were able to take control of the game and put up 47 shots on net (with the third period being 16-7 Minnesota). Their freshman continued to play well, led by Bjugstad’s three points and Mark Alt’s defensive play. And most importantly, the Gophers were able to rally from adversity and come back from two goals. It’s something they will need as the Gophers sit in 19th place in the Pairwise rankings and need to move up at least four spots if they want to make the NCAA Tournament.
Regardless of opponent, next weekend’s game will be at Mariucci Arena.
One point is better than none.
In what has to be seen as a disappointment, Minnesota was unable to hold a third period lead after defenseman Brad Hunt scored a powerplay goal with 19.9 seconds left. The powerplay, which happened due to a questionable hooking call on Nick Bjugstad, was Bemidji’s first goal with the man advantage after going 0-3 throughout the night. It also gave the Beavers an opportunity to win after giving up a goal to Patrick White three minutes earlier.
As far the final frame goes, Minnesota was easily the better team. They had a couple great odd-man opportunities early between Jacob Cepis and Erik Haula but were unable to convert. Despite playing without Taylor Matson and Aaron Ness (the extent of their injuries are unknown right now), Minnesota rallied around them and kept creating opportunities. That paid off as White finally scored on a mirror image of the first goal; this time he was the recipient of a Nate Condon pass from the half-wall.
The good news about tonight is that with one point the Gophers clinched home ice and can finish no lower than sixth. However that still doesn’t take away the disappointment of giving up a late goal and scraping away one point. Plus with Bemidji winning all but one game this season on Saturday and CC one point behind Minnesota, tomorrow’s game is much more important. For a team which probably needs to reach the semifinals of the Final Five to have a NCAA Tournament chance (and possibly win that), 5th place is a much easier path than 6th place.
Tomorrow night’s game is at 7 PM and is on FSN..
The Gophers looked much better after a lackluster first and Nick Bjugstad scored the only goal of the period halfway through the period on a fifteen second 5×3. It was fitting for Bjugstad given he started off the period by winning the faceoff and creating his own opportunity seconds into the period. His goal, which came four seconds after Ian Lowe hit Erik Haula with a high stick, was the product of a cross-ice pass by Jay Barriball.
Bemidji had their share of chances outshooting the Gophers (whatever) but Kent Patterson stood tall. The Beavers also continued to be more aggressive and physical throughout the period which ended in Aaron Ness and Taylor Matson both leaving the game at times with injuries. Both teams are still in the game and have a chance to win. It should be an interesting third period.
Both have been off the ice since early in the second period. It looked like Ness injured his back as he was holding it; however that’s just speculation. Not sure about Matson.
EDIT: Matson has returned.
EDIT 2: Matson has once again gone down. Looks like a lower body injury.
Officials decided that it went off a Bemidji defender’s skate rather than Condon’s stick.
Well it was a good first four-and-a-half minutes for the Gophers. Then the bottom fell out.
After a Nate Condon goal 1:34 in, Matt Read and the Beavers responded by tipping a Ryan Adams pass in to tie the game three-and-a-half minutes later. The game changed with that goal as Bemdiji took control of the game and became the more aggressive team. There were stretches of play where the Gophers spent entire shifts in their own zone and letting the third and fourth lines of Bemidji run wild.
An Ian Lowe goal with 7:52 left was waved-off by officials due to Matt Read interfering with Kent Patterson in the crease; however it was vindicated twenty seconds by Bemidji’s Aaron McLeod.
There was one penalty in the period, a hold by Minnesota’s Tom Serratore. The Gophers did kill the penalty although the Beavers spent the first 90 seconds in the zone wearing out the PK. The period ended with Bemidji outshooting Minnesota 13-8 and being the better team (mirroring Michigan Tech last weekend).
Tips it in past Kent Patterson. 14:02 left.
Nate Condon scores on a beautiful pass from Patrick White 1:34 in.
You can also hear the Rouser being sung at Sanford Center.
According to Gophersports:
Mike Hoeffel-Nick Bjugstad-Jay Barriball
Jacob Cepis-Erik Haula-Jake Hansen
Nate Condon-Pat White-Taylor Matson
Tom Serratore-Nick Larson-Joe Miller
Seth Helgeson-Cade Fairchild
Aaron Ness-Mark Alt
Kevin Wehrs-Justin Holl
Scratches: Nico Sacchetti, Nate Schmidt, Jake Parenetau (suspended)
The University of Minnesota Golden Gophers look to make their first trip to the brand new Sanford Center this weekend as they end the WCHA regular season against Bemidji State. One of two new teams in the WCHA this season, the Beavers are struggling to adapt and sit tied for tenth with Minnesota State University Mankato two years removed from a Cinderella run to the Frozen Four semifinals. Despite that, Bemidji has been playing better hockey lately and is 3-2-2 in their last seven games.
Minnesota only needs one point to clinch home ice for the first round of the WCHA but can't take the Beavers for granted. Facing the top powerplay in the WCHA at 21.7 percent, the Gophers' underachieving penalty kill needs to continue its improved play over the last month as Bemidji relies on scoring with the man advantage (despite the outstanding powerplay, they are eleventh in the WCHA scoring goals) and their top line has scored sixty percent of the team's goals. Two players in particular to look out for are forwards Jeff George and Matt Read.
Minnesota should be getting back captain Jay Barriball this weekend, which bodes well for the visiting team. Although the top-six, particularly Jacob Cepis and Erik Haula, have played well in his absence (Minnesota has gone 4-0-1 since Barriball went out with a knee injury against Minnesota-Duluth) a returning Barriball gives a lot of confidence to the team as they make a run towards the postseason.
Tonight's game is at 7:30 PM and Saturday's game is at 7:00 PM. Both games are being broadcast on Fox Sports North.