MINNEAPOLIS - A night after allowing Bemidji State to force overtime with a late goal, the Minnesota men's hockey program had its turn to play the spoilers in Saturday's 4-3 Gophers' win as Minnesota advanced to the WCHA Final Five next weekend in St. Paul.
The Gophers rallied from a two-goal deficit on Saturday before Ben Marshall tallied the eventual game winner with 53 seconds left in regulation.
Freshman Adam Wilcox improved to 25-6-5 with the win, making 19 saves to tie Kellen Briggs' Minnesota rookie wins record set in 2003-04. Along with Quinnipiac's Eric Hartzell, Wilcox is also tied for first in the nation in wins this season.
Minnesota (26-7-5) found itself in unusual territory on Saturday as Bemidji State took a 1-0 lead in the first from Jordan George and added a second midway through the second period from Cory Ward. Nick Bjugstad tallied the Gophers' lone power-play goal at 15:33 to cut the lead to one, but the Beavers (6-22-8) fired right back 14 seconds later at 15:47 when Jeff Jubinville made it a 3-1 contest.
The Gophers, who outshot Bemdiji State 41-22 on the night, made it a one-goal game at 18:54 of the second period when an Erik Haula shot bounced off Nate Condon's shin pad and trickled into the net for Haula's second of three assists in the win and Zach Budish's first of two.
The duo hooked up again with A.J. Michaelson for the game-tying goal at 7:38 of the third when Haula's rebound kicked to Michaelson in front of the crease for the freshman's third goal of the season.
And just when it looked as if Minnesota was heading towards its second overtime game in a row, Marshall played the hero for the hometown crowd in the final WCHA contest ever at Mariucci Arena. With 53 seconds left on the clock, the sophomore defenseman threw a backhand attempt on goal that found a way passed Andrew Walsh for the deciding score.
Marshall, who tallied his eighth goal of the season with the winner, now has three goals and four points in his last four games. Kyle Rau added an assist on Minnesota's first goal of the night to extend his streak to five-straight games with a point. The Gophers are 23-1-1 this season when the sophomore scores a point.
Minnesota returns to action next weekend at the Xcel Energy Center with a WCHA Final Five semifinal matchup against an opponent to be determined. The Gophers will play in the 7 p.m. CT semifinal on Friday, March 22.