Minnesota and St Cloud State braved ugly skies and white stuff to play at Mariucci Arena this evening, and with the same goaltenders in net this evening like last night, early poll numbers told us all a good game was in store. Kent Patterson and Ryan Faragher would take the pipes respectively for Minnesota and St Cloud State once again.
The first minute of action netted only one shot to Minnesota, and it seemed each team was playing within its means to start the game. The Gophers controlled possession to the 2:30 mark but were struggling to let shots go. The defenses on both sides would dictate the course of play up past the three minute mark, and it would take something special to beat Ryan Faragher based on his effort from last night for St Cloud State. Minnesota’s Jake Hansen would get a holding minor at 3:16, giving SCSU its first man advantage of the night. The first minute of power play wouldn’t net St Cloud State an official shot but the Huskies were getting opportunities. The final twenty-four seconds of power play were thwarted when SCSU sent Jared Festler to the box for interference. Minnesota would get a one minute, forty second power play out of the deal which would be their first of the evening. Minnesota would be like the “Jaws” shark when looking for chances, being careful and calculated in their shot making. Through 6:03, shots were 3-2 in favor of Minnesota, but Minnesota still had power play time to work on. The Gophers power play was stifled however and the teams would continue play on even strength. On a three on two opportunity, Minnesota pocketed the night’s first goal at 8:13 as Nick Bjugstad scored on even strength. Zach Budish and Justin Holl assisted Bjugstad. Moments later, at 8:57, Minnesota scored again when Jake Hansen lit the lamp on assists from Erik Haula and Travis Boyd on another offensive rush in the St Cloud State zone. The final ten minutes of the period would test SCSU, who were down 8-3 at 10:05 in shots. Minnesota would have Nate Schmidt sent to the box at 11:16 for holding, giving St Cloud State a power play to work with. Minnesota’s penalty kill would be rock solid with their effort, making St Cloud State suffer a blow on their power play with no production. At 14:06, shots were 9-5 in favor of Minnesota, and the Gophers looked to go to warm up with a two goal lead. Let’s give Kent Patterson his dues early, as he was making saves he needed to make and some he didn’t necessarily need to make as well. Going into the first intermission, the way Minnesota was playing was “just the way (uh huh, uh huh) the” student section “liked it.” Shots at the end of the period favored Minnesota 10-8, and power plays had SCSU at 0-2 while Minnesota was 0-1.
The first minute of the second period started a slight bit slow for St Cloud State but the play ratcheted up as the period got started. Each team had a shot through two minutes played, and the first two minutes were played clean in terms of penalties not being called. The first five minutes would elapse without a penalty, and Minnesota was trying to further their lead by cycling the puck in the offensive zone. In the middle stages of the period, there was a time where SCSU needed to take shots in open shooting lanes (with 6:23 elapsed), but Patterson and the Minnesota defense were up to each task. Shots were 4-3 SCSU to that point on the period. The first major scrap of the game came at 7:24 as both Huskies and Gophers got into it in front of the Husky net. Oh my! Coincidental minors were called for roughing to Minnesota’s Nick Bjugstad and SCSU’s Kevin Gravel at 7:24 as well. The Gophers were struggling with puck handling as the midway point of the game approached, and it seemed like the puck was bouncing a lot. Shots overall through 31:00 favored SCSU 15-14 (7-4 in the period to that point), and yet the Gophers were two rungs higher on the ladder to success. St Cloud State would be called for a cheap and borderline dirty tripping minor at 12:13 as David Eddy would be sent to hockey jail. It was after all a textbook tripping call, folks. The Minnesota power play coming from the tripping minor was their second, believe it or not, and the Gophers were stifled upon approach in the opening minute. The home team would get their chances as the power play dwindled, but the Gophers ultimately were kept off the board. As the final stretch in the period was upon us, St Cloud State had some work to do to get the game back down to a one-goal differential. The shots were only 17-15 Minnesota as we got past thirty-six minutes played, and at 16:13, coincidental cross checking minors were called on Minnesota’s Nate Schmidt and SCSU’s David Eddy giving the game a bit of four on four play. At 18:35, penalties were called when players’ emotions got the best of them. Let’s run you through the penalties, starting with Minnesota’s Ben Marshall receiving a minor for cross checking and a major for grabbing the face mask, and SCSU’s David Eddy for grabbing the face mask. The final part of the SCSU power play from the Marshall minor would commence and end in the third period, so in practical terms, SCSU needed a goal before the final second period buzzer. Alas, they were shut out. Shots at the end of two periods had Minnesota down 21-19 (SCSU outshot MINN 13-9 on the period) and power plays had SCSU at 0-3 and Minnesota at 0-2.
Ryan Faragher made easily the save of the game when he had to face two Gophers (who were shorthanded). Needless to say as it happened in the first minute, an impressive stop was made. Shots through forty-two minutes of play were even at 21-21. But, you didn’t need two points to win like in table tennis. The first penalty of the period went to St Cloud State at 2:26 when Joey Holka would go think about his crime for two minutes as he was called for interference. A hush came over a bit of the crowd as Minnesota started its power play, but it was over forty-five seconds later at 3:11 as Nick Bjugstad would put Minnesota’s third goal home with assists from Nate Schmidt and Kyle Rau. Minnesota’s fourth goal came at 3:42 as Mark Alt would score on an even strength rebound. Alt was assisted by Taylor Matson and Nate Condon. Shots at the five minute mark of the third period had Minnesota ahead 25-23 (up 6-2 in the period). At 5:21, SCSU’s Brooks Bertsch would be called to hockey jail for tripping, giving Minnesota another power play. Minnesota’s Nick Bjugstad would give the students Culvers on a hat trick power play goal at 5:42. Nate Schmidt and Erik Haula would assist Bjugstad on the milestone goal. Shots with 13:00 left were 27-23 to Minnesota, and Minnesota earned all twenty-seven shot opportunities it was given. Kent Patterson was also in control of his rebounds from start to finish. At 12:54, Minnesota’s Seth Helgeson was assessed a two-minute hooking minor, which gave SCSU their fourth power play of the evening. The Huskies would come up empty during their two-minute “power-up” of sorts, and the Gophers were just content to kill the clock and take their second series split in the last three hockey weekends. A late penalty at 19:19 was called to SCSU’s Brooks Bertsch for roughing, but it wouldn’t matter in a 5-0 Gopher victory. Shots finished up 35-30 to Minnesota (16-9 MINN in the third period) and power plays had St Cloud State going 0-4 with Minnesota going 2-5.
Minnesota next travels to East Lansing, MI for games with Michigan State on Thanksgiving weekend. Miss the College Hockey Showcase? I sure do…both games will be on Fox Sports North with 6pm CT starts instead of the usual 7pm start time. It’s the Eastern time zone after all.
Geoff Discher is lodeplus.com’s Minnesota Golden Gophers Hockey Examiner as well as the National College Hockey Examiner. Leave a comment below, or feel free to reach him at Disch61@hotmail.comwith comments, story ideas, or any general talk surrounding college hockey. You can find him on Facebook as well by clicking hereas well as hereand joining the conversation from the social media side as well. He’s always chock full of fact and opinion. I’m also on Twitter @GophHkyExmnr. Check it out!
Until next time, I’ll see you at the rink!