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March 2, 2013
MINNEAPOLIS - The No. 2 Minnesota men's hockey team scored five unanswered goals including four in the third period as the Gophers picked up a 5-1 win over No. 10/11 Denver on Saturday night at Mariucci Arena.
Zach Budish tied a career-high with four points (two goals, two assists) in the win while Erik Haula picked up three assists in Minnesota's final Western Collegiate Hockey Association regular-season game at Mariucci Arena.
For Minnesota (22-7-5 overall, 14-7-5 WCHA), Saturday night started and ended with the Maroon and Gold's captain. After Scott Mayfield put Denver up 1-0 with a power-play goal at 3:34 of the first period, Budish brought the game back to square midway through the second with his 11th goal of the season at 9:03. Haula and Sam Warning were credited with assists.
A tight battle spilled over into the third period, where it ended it being all Gophers. Nick Bjugstad scored the eventual game winner at 9:52 of the final stanza on a power-play goal with assists from Haula and Kyle Rau. Denver (17-11-5, 12-9-5) would then stumble defensively with two goals against in a span of 1:20. Justin Holl made it a two-goal game at 12:24 with his second of the year (assists from Travis Boyd and Budish) before the Gophers captain reciprocated on Warning's earlier assist at 13:44 - teaming up with Jake Parenteau for Warning's eighth goal of the season.
Budish capped the night with an empty-net goal at 18:55 to conclude the 5-1 win for Minnesota, which outshot the Pioneers 43-32 on the night to move to 5-0-2 this season when tallying 40 or more shots on goal. Haula and senior Seth Helgeson assisted on the final goal - a poignant ending to the game for Helgeson, who was honored in his final regular-season home appearance before the game.
In net, Adam Wilcox returned to his winning ways and moved to 21-6-5 in his freshman campaign with the Maroon and Gold. Wilcox made 31 saves and allowed just one goal on Saturday with the win marking his third-straight game with 30 or more saves. Sam Brittain suffered the loss for Denver, making 38 saves to fall to 4-6-0 on the season. Both teams were 1-for-4 on the power play.
The Gophers close out one of the most closely contested WCHA seasons ever - and Minnesota's final campaign in the league -- next weekend at Bemidji State.
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