Gophers finish strong, earn two big points

Kyle Rau had the game-winner in the third period as Minnesota beat UMD 5-3.

Drew Claussen

Friday’s game between the Gophers and Minnesota-Duluth was borderline ugly at some points, but in the end, Minnesota came up with two huge WCHA points.

The Gophers used two third-period goals to defeat the Bulldogs 5-3 at Mariucci Arena.

Kyle Rau scored the game-winning goal in the third when a deflected puck found his stick in the high slot.

The goal spiced up an uneventful third period.

The two teams entered the third tied 3-3 thanks to some luck. The Bulldogs hit the pipe three times in the second period. Both teams combined for five goals in the game’s middle stanza.

Two of UMD’s goals in the second came on the power play. Minnesota went 0-for-5 on the with the extra man Friday night.

“Early on it just kind of summed up our game,” Lucia said of Minnesota’s power-play struggles. “I thought we moved it better later in the game.”

Freshman Adam Wilcox had his second straight shaky game in net for Minnesota, though he made some big saves once Minnesota took the lead in the third. Wilcox struggled with rebound control throughout the night, but he was aided by many opportunities that UMD fanned on near the crease.

In a game that could have easily gotten out of hand, the Gophers stayed in it with big plays.

“I thought our top-end guys made the plays when they had the opportunities to make the plays,” Lucia said. “And they finished — that was the difference tonight.”

In the second period, Zach Budish dropped a pass to Erik Haula on a penalty kill for a short-handed goal. Later, Sam Warning went coast-to-coast and notched a highlight-reel goal.

Haula’s goal gave the Gophers a short-lived two-goal lead.

“Sometimes you get a 2-0 lead and you feel like it’s almost over,” Lucia said. “I never felt that way tonight.”

Nate Condon got the Gophers on the board first when he gained the zone and threw what looked like a harmless shot at Matt McNeely. The puck got past the freshman goalie and slid just across the goal line.

Condon’s goal was reviewed but upheld. An apparent goal by the Gophers’ Travis Boyd in the first was waived off because of goaltender interference by Tom Serratore.

UMD head coach Scott Sandelin said he didn’t believe Condon’s goal should have stood.

Minnesota has made a habit of winning Friday and losing Saturday the past two series. The Gophers will try to sweep the Bulldogs on Saturday at 7 p.m.

“We can’t have a full stomach after winning one game,” junior forward Erik Haula said. “We’ve got to be a little pissed off with how we played the first and second period [Friday] and come out hard in the first tomorrow.”