Men’s Hockey Live Blog: Gophers vs. (5) North Dakota

by Max Sanders

FINAL-A Gophers team that looked dead in the water just 24 hours ago pulls off the stunner 4-2, forcing a deciding game 3 tomorrow night. GOPHERS 4; NORTH DAKOTA 2. 00:00.5 3rd-Jordan Schroeder adds the empty netter, and to quote Jack Buck, we will see you tomorrow night. Game 3 will be at 7 p.m. 00:48 3rd-A huge blow to North Dakota’s comeback chances. After pulling Eidsness for the extra attacker, the Sioux had too many men on the ice. Serving the penalty will be David Toews, eliminating the chance at gaining an extra attacker. 7:02 3rd-Minnesota knocks in the late go-ahead goal. Freshman Seth Helgeson fired a laser from just inside the blue line that somehow found the back of the net for the goal. What a time for his first career goal. GOPHERS 3; NORTH DAKOTA 2. 7:50 3rd-Jacob Cepis does it again. After drawing the penalty, Cepis fired a shot from the near Minnesota circle that went right through the legs of Eidsness for the equalizer. GOPHERS 2; NORTH DAKOTA 2. 8:43 3rd-Minnesota will be on the power play, as Cepis draws yet another penalty, this time on North Dakota’s Ben Blood, who was called for tripping. 9:16 3rd-The momentum results in the go-ahead goal. Matt Frattin took a pass from Chris VandeVelde and fired a shot from the far Minnesota face off circle that went low past Kangas for the goal. GOPHERS 1; NORTH DAKOTA 2. 10:15 3rd-The momentum is now in the hands of the Sioux. Jacob Cepis received an outlet pass and was all alone for the breakaway. The junior went for the five-hole but was stopped by Eidsness, charging up what had been a passive North Dakota crowd. 15:02 3rd-Five minutes into the third, Minnesota has dominated action thus far, pressing and keeping action in the North Dakota zone. Second Intermission Re-Cap: Goals: Gophers 0; North Dakota 1(Knight) Shots on Goal: Gophers 11; North Dakota 14 Penalties: Gophers 3; North Dakota 2 Instant Analysis: North Dakota adds the equalizer on a gritty goal by freshman Corban Knight. Minnesota continued to pressure for most of the second period, but the Sioux stormed back. The second period featured a controversial double penalty on Helgeson and Hextall. Helgeson appeared to punch Hextall in the near boards, yet both were sent to the box for roughing, eliminating what would have been a two man advantage for the Sioux. We are in for a rough and tumble final period of regulation, with the series on the line; and Minnesota’s season at stake. 2:06 2nd-Minnesota with a horrendous power play. North Dakota dominated action, threatening to score a short handed goal for the second straight night, while the Gophers didn’t manage a single shot on net during the two minute advantage. 4:16 2nd-The Gophers kill of the penalty, and get a power play of their own when North Dakota’s Darcy Zajac is cited for checking from behind. 6:33 2nd-Minnesota is lucky to not be down two men. Seth Helgeson got tangled with Brett Hextall on the near boards, and Helgeson appeared to be in the instigator. Regardless, both players were sent to the box; both for roughing. 8:12 2nd-North Dakota will be on the power play, as Minnesota’s Patrick White is called for hooking. 11:07 2nd-A magnificent save by Kangas keeps this game tied at 1. Brad Hextall received a centering pass as he was crashing the net and fired a shot that hit Kangas’ helmet before getting stopped just outside the red line. The play was reviewed and the call was upheld. 12:23 2nd-The Sioux score the equalizer. Danny Kristo fired a shot that was stopped by Kangas but rested in the crease, where Corban Knight punched it in. GOPHERS 1; NORTH DAKOTA 1. 14:44 2nd-North Dakota with its best chance of the night. Brett Hextall stole the puck in the neutral zone and led a 2-on-1 fast break. Hextall fired high, but Kangas deflected the puck up and out of the rink. The goalie has rebounded nicely from yesterday’s debacle, and has rewarded Lucia’s faith by playing a solid game of hockey up to this point. 16:15 2nd-The Gophers kill off another North Dakota penalty. The Sioux had few open looks, as Minnesota did a good job closing all open lanes and blocking shots before they could reach Kangas. Following the penalty Kevin Wehrs led a two-on-one, but Mike Carman’s shot was deflected wide. 18:41 1st-Just as Minnesota’s penalty ends (the carry over of the Tony Lucia penalty from the end of the first period), Kevin Wehrs is sent to the box for tripping, giving the Sioux another chance at a comeback with the man-advantage. First Intermission Re-Cap: Goals: Gophers 1(Hoeffel {PP}); North Dakota 0 Shots on Goal: Gophers 3; North Dakota 14 Penalties: Gophers 1; North Dakota 1 Instant Analysis: Minnesota came out with much more intensity than shown a night before; though that was to be expected. While the Gophers have been dominated in the shot count, the difference in tonight’s game is that Minnesota is firing shots on net, they are just getting blocked by defensemen before they can reach Eidsness. Jacob Cepis sparked the Gophers first goal of the night when he first drew a penalty on Eidsness and then assisted on the goal by finding a waiting Hoeffel in the crease for the power play goal. Minnesota will now look to protect and add to its 1 goal lead in the second period. 00:50 1st-North Dakota will be on its first power play of the night, as Tony Lucia is called for hooking. 2:40 1st-Minnesota capitalizes. Cade Fairchild passed it down low to Cepis, who centered the puck to a waiting Mike Hoeffel. Hoeffel chipped the puck past Eidsness for the power play goal. GOPHERS 1; NORTH DAKOTA 0. 2:52 1st-Jacob Cepis draws the first penalty of the game. Crashing the net the forward was tripped by Eidsness. Serving the penalty is North Dakota’s Matt Frattin. 4:21 1st-The net came loose after a Sioux forward crashed the net. After play was stopped both teams got involved in a post-whistle fracas, sending Minnesota’s Seth Helgeson and North Dakota’s Brad Malone to the box; each for roughing. 13:03 1st-North Dakota nearly puts one past Kangas. A loose puck fell in the Gophers crease and nearly rolled past before Nick Leddy was able to swat the puck to the far boards. 14:25 1st-The Gophers are battling harder thus far, fighting on the boards and not allowing North Dakota to do what it wants all over the ice. Patrick White stole the puck in the neutral zone and fired a shot that was deflected high and out of the ice for a face-off in the Sioux near circle. 18:37 1st-Minnesota manages the first shot of the game, when Cade Fairchild fired a shot from the far boards that was chest saved by Eidsness.

We are mere seconds away from the drop of the puck. The beginning minutes will be key for Minnesota. They have to get out to a fast start and at the minimum avoid a disastrous opening goal by the Sioux if they stand a chance.