Minnesota men’s hockey forges two comebacks for win and draw in NY

Leon Bristedt led the Gophers with a game-winning goal in overtime Friday.

Gophers forward Leon Bristedt passes the puck at Mariucci Arena on Oct. 21, 2016.

Maddy Fox

Gophers forward Leon Bristedt passes the puck at Mariucci Arena on Oct. 21, 2016.

Drew Cove

Late-game heroics saved the Gophers from having another winless weekend.

No. 12 Minnesota (3-2-1) emerged victorious on Friday against Clarkson in overtime 4-3.

On Saturday — thanks to two goals in the final minute — the Gophers managed to send the game to overtime 2-2. After five extra minutes, the game ended in a draw.

“I think [the comeback]’s really important,” said junior forward Leon Bristedt. “Especially since it’s been the other way around against St. Cloud. Now we proved that this team can win.”

On Friday night, Minnesota’s veterans turned a 3-0 first period deficit to a 4-3 win in overtime.

Bristedt netted the game-winning goal in overtime Friday.

The forward said that his line mates made a difference on the goal.

Once the shooting lane opened up, he found the puck on his stick and scored to give the Gophers the comeback overtime win — something they were on the other side of last weekend.

Senior captain Justin Kloos scored the game-tying goal, his second of the season, about four minutes into the third period.

“It felt good, individually, to help out the team,” Kloos said. “We played some really good hockey after the first period. I think that was a good step for us.”

The goal capped off a three-goal rally from Minnesota to send the game to overtime, and eventually, Bristedt eneded the game , a serious improvement from the team’s performance earlier in the game.

The Gophers found themselves in a three-goal deficit after only 20 minutes of play on Saturday. Minnesota sophomore goaltender Eric Schierhorn allowed three goals on 11 shots by Clarkson in the first period.

“You’ve got to play the game the right way,” said head coach Don Lucia. “We weren’t aggressive enough, and you find yourself down 3-0 because you’re not taking care of the puck.”

The Gophers came out into the second period with newfound life and fired 13 shots to Clarkson’s five.

The power play was instrumental to the Gophers’ comeback. The first two Minnesota goals were scored on the extra-man advantage.

Junior forward Mike Szmatula, one of the power play scorers, cut into the three-goal Clarkson lead.

He maintained that success Saturday as Minnesota escaped with a tie against No. 18 St. Lawrence (3-4-1) on Saturday night.

The Gophers were down 2-0 going into the final minute of the third period, and it looked unlikely for them to come back to tie the game.

Sophomore defenseman Jack Sadek quickly gave the Gophers a chance with six attackers on the ice with an assist. Szmatula saved the Gophers from defeat with the tying goals and sent the game into overtime.

The teams skated for an extra five minutes, but neither scored, and the game ended in a 2-2 draw.

The Gophers had a season-high 44 shots during the game, but they couldn’t cash in on one until the final minute of the game.

“Hopefully, we learned that you’ve got to play the game the right way to give yourself a chance to win,” Lucia said.