April 12, 2014
PHILADELPHIA (GopherSports.com) - In the 12th championship game appearance in program history, Minnesota fell to Union 7-4 on Saturday night in a high-scoring affair that featured 11 combined goals and nearly 90 combined shots on net.
Minnesota started the scoring moments after successfully killing a penalty called 19 seconds into the game. Justin Kloos won a draw to the left of Colin Stevens to set up Nate Condon with a shot from the top of the circle. Stevens made the save, but Kloos gathered the puck, slid across the front of the crease and threw it into the open net at 2:37.
Union answered about seven minutes later when Shane Gostisbehere brought the puck through neutral ice and gained the Minnesota blue line before firing a wrist shot from the edge of the left circle. His shot found the upper-corner over Wilcox's left shoulder and tied the score 9:26 into the game.
Minnesota responded quickly, reclaiming the lead 37 seconds later after Jake Parenteau hit Kyle Rau with a great stretch pass through the neutral zone, setting up Rau for a wraparound attempt that slid underneath Stevens and through the crease toward the left corner. Sam Warning sent the puck back toward the goal from a seemingly impossible angle but snuck it into the net with perfect placement to put the Gophers ahead 2-1.
Five minutes later, Wilcox made an incredible save on a backhand attempt by Mike Vecchione by sliding post-to-post, but Vecchione controlled his own rebound and elevated his next attempt over a sprawling Wilcox to pull the Dutchmen even again at 15:09.
That goal ignited a red-hot stretch for Union. Just 57 seconds after tying the game, Union took its first lead. After his initial shot was turned away, Eli Lichtenwald got the puck back and scored on a shot that glanced off Wilcox's glove and wobbled into the back of the net to make it 3-2.
As it had between its second and third goal, Union took 57 seconds to strike again. A heavy shot from the point deflected behind the net and took a big bounce off the end boards. A strong effort by the Dutchmen kept the puck alive in front of the Gopher net, where Max Novak got off an initial shot which Wilcox saved. The rebound slipped out to the right of the goal. Daniel Ciampini found it and tossed it into the waiting net to extend the Union lead to 4-2.
Minnesota came out in the second period and quickly reasserted itself. Just over a minute into the period, Kloos wrapped around the net and took a tough-angle shot from Stevens' left that produced a short rebound. Taylor Cammarata won a battle for position in front of the net and, after driving his first attempt off Stevens' pads, elevated his second chance over Stevens to pull Minnesota within one, 4-3, at 1:13 of the second.
Minnesota's best chance to tie the game before the second intermission came about 15 minutes into the period. On an odd-man break, Cammarata found Mike Reilly streaking down the slot, producing a clean look for Reilly on Stevens. Reilly went to his backhand but was unable to get his shot off the ice as Stevens kicked out his left pad and stuffed the attempt to preserve Union's one-goal lead heading to the third.
Union extended its lead at 5:31 of the third when Novak tossed a backhand pass over to Keith Sullivan on the right side as the Dutchmen entered the Minnesota zone. Sullivan sent the puck toward the net where Novak connected on an in-stride tip to redirect the puck over Wilcox and in to make it 5-3.
Trailing by two, Minnesota received a spark when Union took a roughing call at 15:25. On the ensuing power play, Reilly set up Travis Boyd for a one-timer from the left dot. Stevens denied Boyd's drive but slid outside the goal frame in the process. Camped out in front of the net, Hudson Fasching pounced on the rebound and popped it into the open net to make it 5-4 with 3:40 remaining in the game.
As Minnesota pressed forward for the tying goal in the waning minutes, Union's Mat Bodie took the puck in his own end and chipped it through the neutral zone. Sullivan calmed it down and took a wrist shot from the left side, which snuck past Wilcox and once again pushed Union's lead to two goals at 18:38.
Bodie added a final goal for Union at 19:15 after Minnesota had pulled Wilcox for a sixth skater, cementing the 7-4 final.
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Gophers Fall in Home Opener
Tyler Sheehy notched his third multi-point game in three contests this season with a goal and two assists in the loss.
Rinkside: Banner Drop Set for Friday
The Gophers will celebrate their fifth-straight regular-season conference title prior to Friday's home opener.