Gophers take down St. Cloud State 3-2

Senior forward Mike Howe notched the GW with 12.7 seconds remaining.

by Brian Deutsch

After going to at least one overtime period in all three of last weekend’s Western Collegiate Hockey Association first round games, the Minnesota men’s hockey team finally ended a playoff contest in regulation ñ the Gophers just waited until there was only 12.7 seconds left to take the lead and clinch the 3-2 win over St. Cloud State.

Senior forward Mike Howe tallied his sixth goal of the year when he caught an errant shot from senior defenseman Derek Peltier, whose shot went off the boards behind the net, and pocketed the game-winner by slipping the disc under sophomore netminder Jase Weslosky.

“I was hanging out behind the net trying to get lost,” Howe said after the game before adding that the goal was a career highlight for him since it came against St. Cloud, where he grew up.

But Howe wasn’t the only upperclassmen to contribute in the winning effort ñ it was practically senior night all over again.

Senior forward Evan Kaufmann and Peltier both assisted on sophomore forward Tony Lucia’s first period deflection goal, which came just 25 seconds into the game. Kaufmann later unknotted a 1-1 tie when he slipped a power-play rebound in during a Minnesota 5-on-3 in the second period.

But one senior was noticeably absent tonight ñ forward Tom Pohl, who was seriously injured last weekend during Sunday’s 3-2 double overtime win.

“It’s tough seeing a guy like that go down, he’s a good guy in the locker room. We kind of rallied behind that,” Howe said. “We wish him a fast recovery and our thoughts and prayers are with him.”

Minnesota coach Don Lucia could have used Pohl, one of the Gophers top penalty killers, tonight as the Huskies had seven power-play chances and converted one of them during a 5-on-3 of their own.

“(Tom) is a program guy, he’s not a star player,” Lucia said, adding that the forward’s ability to play a majority of the team’s penalty killing opportunities saves the legs of other players on the squad.

Lucia said after the game that their was no pregame inspirational speech in honor of Pohl, just a simple, “Let’s work hard like Tommy does.”

And it paid off in the third period as what should have been a tired Minnesota team gutted out end of the game just minutes after giving up the tying goal.

“You don’t want to go home tonight (with a loss),” Lucia said. “That might have been the best thing for our team, but that’s not the competitive spirit.”

And in the end it came down to a simple bounce off the boards, one that finally went the Gophers way according to Lucia.

“This team deserves some good bounces because we haven’t had many this year.”

Minnesota will continue its trek to defend its Broadmoor Trophy tomorrow night by taking on regular season champs Colorado College.