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.