Gophers tie U.S. Under-18 team

Minnesota trailed 2-0 before rallying in the exhibition game at Mariucci Arena.

by Drew Claussen

Minnesota sat in an uncomfortable spot after one period Friday night — trailing the U.S. Under-18 team 2-0 in an exhibition game.

The Gophers came back to salvage a 2-2 tie at Mariucci Arena.

In a way, the Gophers were victimized by one of their own. Minnesota recruit Vinni Lettieri scored the first goal for the Under-18 team on a beautiful one-time pass from Anthony Louis. Lettieri was recently added to the US Under-18 team’s roster because of injuries.

Seconds later, Tyler Motte stole the puck from a Minnesota skater and beat goalie Michael Shibrowski to make it 2-0.

Lettieri was one of two Gophers recruits who played for the Under-18 team. Highly touted Hudson Fasching was the other. Fasching took a hard hit from Tom Serratore during the game and did not return. The hit drew a mixed reaction from the sparse crowd — some almost seemed angry with Serratore.

The first period was played very cleanly by both teams, but the second was a different story. The second and third periods saw 11 trips to the penalty box after there were none in the first.

While on the penalty kill, the Under-18 team dug itself into a hole when Mike McCarron hit the Gophers’ Zach Budish from behind.

The Gophers had more than a minute of 5-on-3 power play time. They looked hapless at points during the advantage until Serratore solved goalie Thatcher Demko to get the Gophers on the board.

Minnesota’s comeback was completed later in the period when Justin Holl fed a pass from behind the goal line to Nick Bjugstad, who was waiting backdoor for the routine goal.

Both goalies played well, with Demko facing more shots than Shibrowski. Demko faced 41 shots and made 39 saves; Shibrowski made 27 saves.

Minnesota’s scoring ways cooled off in the third period, and overtime was the same story.

Jake Parenteau took a shot to his ankle in the third period, and he did not return. Head coach Don Lucia said he didn’t think Parenteau’s injury was too serious but didn’t give a timetable for his return.

The Gophers will take a day off before facing Canisius on Sunday at Mariucci Arena.