The Gophers captured a 5-3 victory over visiting Minnesota Duluth tonight.
Weekend Starts with a Win
The Gophers claimed victory in their first game at Mariucci Arena this month. The win keeps the Gophers alive in the battle for the MacNaughton Cup. The two points did not come easy. The Bulldogs outshot the Gophers for most of the game and fought back from two separate deficits to tie the game at three. Austin Fairley tallied two goals for Duluth. In the end, the Gophers had too much firepower. They reversed the shot counter, for a final total of 34-29, and scored two late goals.
Game Winner From Rau
Kyle Rau broke a 3-3 tie with 6:35 remaining in the game. The play started with Nick Bjugstad winning a face off in the Duluth end and getting the puck back to Zach Budish. Zach's shot from the point deflected off of Bjugstad's skate and right to Kyle Rau. Rau made no mistake putting the puck away to give the Gophers a lead they would never relinquish. Kyle's goal proved to be the game winner. Erik Haula added an empty-net goal to seal the game with five seconds left.
It took the Gophers over four minutes to register their first shot on goal, but they made it count. Nate Condon's shot snuck past Minnesota Duluth goalie Matt McNeely and crept just over the line. The goal came while the Bulldogs had the first three shots of the game and many of the best chances in the first period. The Gophers thought they had a second goal in the opening frame, but it was waived off for goalie interference. The first period ended with the Gophers leading 1-0.
Condon Ignites the Second Line
The coaches have switched up lines throughout the season to provide a spark. Tonight, Nate Condon was put back on the second line with Sam Warning and Erik Haula. Nate made an instant impact on the line tonight. He scored the Gophers first goal of the game and assisted on Sam Warning's goal in the second period. Sam's goal came at a particularly key time because Duluth evened the game less than two minutes earlier. Warning cut in off the wing, made a sweet move around one defender, and buried the puck behind McNeely. Erik Haula also scored two goals on the night.
Gophers Go For Sweep Tomorrow
Every game is critical for the Gophers for the remainder of the season if they are to recapture the MacNaughton Cup. Tomorrow's rematch with the struggling Bulldogs provides an excellent opportunity for the Gophers to keep the heat on the top teams in the WCHA. Duluth is winless in their last eight regular season games. At Wednesday's media availability, coaches and players stressed the importance of putting together a complete weekend and not just playing a strong first game. Tomorrow's game will determine the success of the weekend for the Gophers.
Written by Communications Student intern Josh Brennock