March 24, 2012
In a contest that was closer than the final score indicates, the second-seed Minnesota men's hockey team moved on to the second round of the NCAA Tournament with a 7-3 victory over Boston University on Saturday afternoon at the Xcel Energy Center.
The Gophers, who lost 6-3 to North Dakota in the WCHA semifinals last Friday, never trailed in a see-saw affair to capture their first tournament win in five calendar years.
"I'm just happy for our guys," said Lucia. "They've been through it, they've heard it, and they responded."
In a game that saw 18 penalties called, Minnesota got on the board first on the power play, 1:37 after the Terriers negated their first power play of the game with a penalty of their own.
Sophomore defenseman Nate Schmidt's shot from the blueline with Alexx Privitera in the penalty box for interference squeaked through BU goaltender Kieran Millan and rolled toward the net. Freshman Kyle Rau poked the puck toward the goal and a Terrier defender knocked it into his own net.
Despite several chances, including a breakaway chance by freshman winger Sam Warning, Minnesota was unable to add to its lead and went into the intermission up 1-0.
Boston University knotted the score on its fifth man advantage opportunity of the game when Wade Megan buried an Adam Clendening rebound, but the Gophers responded less than two minutes later when Jake Parenteau scored his second collegiate goal by picking the top right corner with a wrist shot from the top of the left circle.
The Terriers answered again just under four minutes later when Ross Gaudet capitalized on a Minnesota defensive zone turnover.
After Gaudet's tally, the game took a quick turn back in the Gophers' favor.
With 4:51 left in the middle stanza, Seth Helgeson gave Minnesota at 3-2 lead with a hard shot from the point. Just nine seconds later, Justin Courtnall received a major penalty for contact to the head.
Minnesota took little time to take advantage, scoring 20 seconds into its five-minute power-play opportunity when Jake Hansen tipped a Schmidt shot past Millan.
After killing off the remainder of Courtnall's penalty, Clendening drew Boston University within one. The Terrier defenseman's long shot hit a Minnesota player and deflected past netminder Kent Patterson.
BU came close to tying the score, but Patterson would hold down the fort for the remaining 16:51 to finish with 31 saves.
The Gophers seized the momentum back before the halfway point of the final frame when Nico Sacchetti made an outstanding individual effort to score his fourth goal of the season. Sacchetti forced a turnover and scored on his backhand after driving to the net.
Hansen and Nick Bjugstad iced the game with empty-net goals in the final two minutes to make it a 7-3 final.
"Tonight, we were able to answer," said Lucia. "Any time we got punched, we were able to punch back."
With the victory, the Gophers moved to 12-12-2 all-time against Boston University all-time with a 5-3 mark in the NCAA Tournament.
Minnesota will square off against WCHA rival North Dakota on Sunday at 4:30 p.m. for the right to play in the NCAA Frozen Four in Tampa Bay, Fla. on April 5 and 7.
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The Maroon & Gold have now won seven-straight games and nine of the last 10 contests.
Around the Rink: Connor Reilly
A native of Chanhassen, Minn., Reilly has collected 53 points (23 goals, 30 assists) in 114 career games with the Gophers.