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Feb. 8, 2013
SAINT CLOUD, Minn. – Erik Haula scored a pair of goals including the eventual game winner as the No. 1 Minnesota men’s hockey program opened the weekend with a 4-2 win over No. 8/10 St. Cloud State on Friday night in St. Cloud.
The nation’s top offense this season, Minnesota (19-4-4 overall, 11-4-4 Western Collegiate Hockey Association) scored four or more goals for the 10th time in the last 11 games and moved within three points of the Huskies for first in the league (Minnesota has two games in hand on tonight’s opponent).
Junior Nick Bjugstad opened the night for the Gophers with his team-high 14th goal of the year at 8:45 of the first period when he found the loose puck in front of the St. Cloud State net and beat goaltender Ryan Faragher. Kyle Rau and Nate Condon both earned assists on the goal. The Huskies (17-11-1, 14-6-1) would answer later in the first when Joey Benik scored his first of the year at 14:48 from Cory Thorson.
Haula – Minnesota’s leading scorer with 33 points this season at the conclusion of Friday’s win – put the Gophers up 2-1 at 4:32 of the second when the junior put a low wrist shot under Faragher with an assist coming from junior Mark Alt. The Huskies responded for a second time early in the third period when Drew LeBlanc found the net for a power-play gaol.
From there it was all Minnesota as the visitors scored twice in 58 seconds during a 4-on-4 situation. Haula gave the Gophers the lead for good at 9:32 of the third with his 13th goal of the season after being set up by junior Nate Schmidt before the St. Cloud native would blast home his own goal moments later at 10:30. Freshman Brady Skjei and Rau notched assists on the goal.
Haula, Schmidt and Rau paced Minnesota with two points each while Schmidt has scored a goal in each of the last three games.
On the other end of the ice, rookie Adam Wilcox improved to a WCHA-best 18-3-4 on the season with 22 saves against the Huskies. The freshman has now allowed two or fewer goals in eight of the last ten games. Faragher made 38 saves to fall to 16-9-1 for St. Cloud State.
The two nationally ranked teams return to action at 7 p.m. tomorrow in the series finale in St. Cloud. FOX Sports North PLUS and 1500 ESPN will broadcast the action.
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