Minnesota takes 3 of 4 in Alaska

Minnesota’s power play was effective all weekend, but the team struggled in 5-on-5 situations.

Drew Claussen

The Gophers were in an unlikely position Saturday when they trailed Alaska-Anchorage in the third period.

Minnesota had dominated the Seawolves on Friday in Anchorage, Alaska, but one day later, it had to rally to force a 2-2 tie.

The Gophers took three of four points from Anchorage over the weekend, improving to 3-2-1 in the WCHA (6-2-1 overall).

“We wanted the four points,” Erik Haula said. “But three points on the road — that’s not bad.”

The Gophers sleepwalked through the second period Saturday and fell behind 2-1 in the third on a goal from Alex Gellert.

Then Haula provided a spark. He scored the Gophers’ only even-strength goal of the weekend at the 13:31 mark of the third period to tie the game.

Head coach Don Lucia said he saw a different Anchorage team on the ice Saturday. He said the Seawolves could have been a little off their game Friday because they had the previous weekend off.

“Sometimes it takes a little while to get in the rhythm of the game, which I think happened over the course of the game [Friday],” Lucia said. “But we were too far ahead at that point in time.”

After Haula’s goal, Minnesota unleashed a flurry of shots in an attempt to win the game in the third period. But Anchorage goalie Rob Gunderson stood tall.

“Their goaltender played well. We had chances; we hit three pipes tonight,” Lucia said. “I can’t say some guys had their A game tonight, but they all played hard.”

Gunderson’s heroics continued in overtime, when he stopped five more shots. The Seawolves did not record a shot in overtime.

Seth Ambroz scored Minnesota’s other goal in the first period. 

It was the first overtime contest of the year for the Gophers and came as a surprise considering how the team played Friday.

Minnesota’s special teams dominated Friday’s shutout. All four of the Gophers’ goals came via the power play.

“We always know what the next play is going to be,” Haula said, discussing how the team’s power play has clicked. “Everyone is kind of on the same page.”

The Gophers were 4-for-6 on the power play Friday and 1-for-3 Saturday. Minnesota had similar success the previous weekend against Minnesota State-Mankato, when it converted four of 11 power-play chances.

Minnesota scored twice in the first period Friday and twice in the second.

Kyle Rau got the Gophers on the board early when he one-timed a faceoff win past Anchorage goaltender Chris Kamal. Nick Bjugstad added another goal for Minnesota near the end of the first.

Rau notched his second goal of the night seven minutes into the second, and Ben Marshall lit the lamp six minutes later to cap off the scoring for Minnesota.

Marshall returned to playing defense this weekend after stepping up to play forward in the absence of Sam Warning the previous two weekends.

Freshman Adam Wilcox looks to have a strong hold on the Gophers’ starting goaltender job after two more solid starts. Wilcox has started both games in back-to-back series.

Wilcox had 14 saves Friday in the second shutout of his young career. He gave up two goals on 23 shots Saturday.