Jan. 25, 2014
SAINT PAUL, Minn. -- Minnesota won its first shootout in four tries this year to claim the inaugural North Star College Cup against Minnesota Duluth in front of 14,518 fans in downtown St. Paul at Xcel Energy Center.
Goaltender Adam Wilcox turned aside both shootout attempts he saw en route to being named Tournament MVP. Wilcox made a career-high 38 saves in wins against St. Cloud State on Friday and against the Bulldogs on Saturday.
The Gophers are now unbeaten in their last 12 games, with nine wins and three ties. Minnesota is 18-2-4 on the year and hosts Michigan State this weekend.
Despite being outshot 7-2 midway through the first period, Minnesota’s captain Kyle Rau got the Gophers on the board first as he collected a loose puck behind the Bulldog and brought it back out front. The puck careened off Duluth’s Dan Molenaar and settled at Rau’s skate before the junior knocked it in for an unassisted goal. The goal was his sixth of the year and the 39th time he has lit the lamp as a Gopher.
The Bulldogs answered 18 seconds later as Caleb Herbert’s low shot found its way around a prone Brady Skjei and beat Wilcox glove-side. Duluth then took a 2-1 lead just 21 seconds later as Herbert, who was streaking down the right side of the ice, deftly found a trailing Austin Farley who snapped the puck past Wilcox for his fifth goal of the season.
Minnesota fought back to tie the game when the Bulldogs’ Adam Krause was sent to the penalty box for elbowing at the 15:07 mark of the first. The Gophers’ second shot on the power play came 44 seconds into the extra-man advantage and found the back of the net as Minnesota’s senior captain, Nate Condon, slid the puck past Aaron Crandall despite heavy traffic in front. It was Condon’s fifth goal of the season and his second in as many nights, as he scored the game-winner against St. Cloud State on Friday night.
The Gophers went back on the power play with 3:29 left in the period, but could not pull ahead. Their best opportunity came when Sam Warning flung the puck in front of the net after a nice spin move, but Ambroz, who took two whacks at the puck, could not get his stick on it before Duluth cleared.
The teams skated to a scoreless second period despite both having opportunities. Minnesota’s best chance came on the power play when freshman Hudson Fasching was stopped by Crandall point blank in front of the crease after taking a pass from Warning. The Bulldogs had chances as well with an extra skater. Andy Welinski’s point shot ricocheted off Wilcox before the Gophers’ sophomore tender stabbed it out of midair with his glove.
Minnesota defenseman Ben Marshall was dismissed from the game with 42.8 seconds left in the second period for what the referees deemed to be contact to the head. Welinski was also assessed an unsportsmanlike penalty for Duluth and the teams ended the second period four-on-four.
The third period began the way the second ended, with each team down a man. The Gophers then went on a 4-on-3 power play after Herbert was whistled for interference. Fasching then put Minnesota in front 3-2 after knocking in a rebound off a Mike Reilly shot that was initially saved by Crandall.
Just like in the first period, Minnesota’s lead was short-lived, as Duluth, who was still on the power play because of the Marshall penalty, evened the game just 1:22 later as Farley scored his second of the night.
Travis Boyd, who also scored Friday against St. Cloud State, gave Minnesota a 4-3 lead with 8:19 left in the game. With Kyle Osterberg in the penalty box for tripping, Reilly eluded a Bulldog near the blue line and then found Boyd, who skated in from the circle and beat Crandall with a slap shot.
Duluth leveled the game 4-4 when Joe Basaraba beat Wilcox up high on his glove side from just above the circle with 2:09 remaining.
Ambroz was sent to the penalty box with 1:27 left in the game for boarding. Minnesota killed off the penalty and the remaining 33 seconds to begin the overtime session. The teams traded penalties (Duluth’s Willie Raskob boarding with 1:29 left, while Boyd was called for tripping with 1:21 remaining) and ended the overtime session four-on-four.
Rau, Ambroz and Wilcox then won the North Star College Cup for the Gophers with their performances in the shootout.
St. Cloud State topped Minnesota State 6-4 in the third-place game earlier in the day.
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