Gophers knock off Beavers in OT

Minnesota needed 51 shots and an extra period to beat Bemidji State in its WCHA tournament opener.

by Drew Claussen

The Gophers outshot Bemidji State 51-18 on Friday, but they needed a goal by Kyle Rau in overtime to get the win.

Minnesota defeated the Beavers 2-1 in overtime in the opener of a three-game Western Collegiate Hockey Association first-round playoff series at Mariucci Arena.

Minnesota held a large shot advantage throughout the game and had the lead entering the final minute of regulation.

 But the Beavers tied the game on a bad bounce with 38 seconds left in regulation.

A puck took a weird carom off the back wall, eluded the Gophers’ Seth Helgeson and found its way onto Brance Orban’s stick. Orban faked goaltender Adam Wilcox and tied the game up with a backhanded shot.

“The whole game we were outplaying them,” said Ben Marshall, who scored the Gophers’ regulation goal. “We figured let’s just keep doing what we’re doing and the bounces will come our way.”

Minnesota had a 41-11 shots advantage after regulation. It needed 10 shots and seven minutes of overtime before Rau corralled a rebound off Nate Schmidt’s shot and hammered it past Bemidji State goalie Andrew Walsh.

“It was going to take a rebound goal to beat them tonight,” Gophers head coach Don Lucia said.

Walsh was spectacular Friday. He had 49 saves and kept the Beavers in the game.

“Tip your hat to him,” Marshall said. “He played unreal tonight.”

Wilcox also played well, denying 18 shots, including several legitimate scoring chances.

Minnesota will try to sweep the Beavers on Saturday at 7 p.m.

“It was just a good hockey game, but we’ve got to forget about it,” Beavers head coach Tom Serratore said. “We still have a game tomorrow.”

Warning out with injury

Lucia said the Gophers’ Sam Warning sustained an injury during practice last week and won’t play this weekend.

“It’s more week-to-week right now,” Lucia said. “We’re hopeful that he’ll be back for the NCAA tournament.”