Thoughts from Minnesota's 2-1 overtime win against Bemidji State
Minnesota Takes Game One
Minnesota captured game one of the WCHA playoff series tonight at Mariucci Arena by a score of 2-1 in overtime. Kyle Rau scored the winning goal. Minnesota recorded 51 shots on goal, dominating the shot counter in every period of the game. Bemidji State's goalie Andrew Walsh was spectacular, turning aside 49 Gopher shots and giving time for the Beavers to find the equalizer with just 38 seconds left in the third period. Minnesota goalie Adam Wilcox made plenty of great saves, including two breakaways in regulation and a big kick save in overtime.
Kyle Rau scored the game-winning goal 13:18 into the first period of overtime. The goal came by way of a Nick Bjugstad face off win. Off the draw, the puck came to Christian Isackson who quickly got the puck back to the point for Nate Schmidt. Schmidt's shot was blocked, but it came right to Rau. Kyle made no mistake in putting the puck past Andrew Walsh to win the game for the Gophers. It was the Gophers first postseason game to go to overtime since 2008. That year, the Gophers played four overtime games in the WCHA playoffs alone. The goal was Rau's seventh game-winning goal of the season.
Minnesota Gets in Front
Minnesota broke the scoreless tie 6:56 into the second period. Ben Marshall skated into a seam right in the slot in front of Andrew Walsh. He was set up by a neat feed from Kyle Rau. Rau was below the goal line and found Marshall after chasing down a puck he dumped in and found enough space to get the puck out to the slot. Both Ben Marshall and Kyle Rau had successful weekends at Bemidji last week. In two games, Ben Marshall picked up a goal and an assist. Kyle Rau had three assists up in Bemidji. The goal would hold up until 38 seconds left in the third period when Brance Orban tied the score on the Beavers 11th shot of the game.
Gophers Control First Period, Lack Scoring Touch
The Gophers dominated most the first period on the shot counter. After 20 minutes, Minnesota led in shots 14-3. Captain Zach Budish was the most active Gopher around the net. He registered a team-high three shots, matching Bemidji State as a team, in the period. Nate Schmidt displayed his skill by creating good opportunities from the point and using his wheels to go coast-to-coast with the puck. Despite the territorial edge, the Gophers were unable to solve Bemidji goaltender Andrew Walsh. The Gophers dominance would continue throughout the whole game.
Minnesota will attempt to sweep the series and advance to the WCHA Final Five tomorrow night. Sweeps have not come easy for the Gophers at Mariucci Arena this season. Minnesota's only home sweep this season came against Alaska Anchorage in early January. The Gophers now have won three consecutive playoff games at Mariucci, including last year's sweep of Alaska Anchorage.