Men’s hockey Live Blog: Gophers vs. (12) St. Cloud State

by Max Sanders

FINAL-A wild, seven goal game ends with a St. Cloud St. victory. Minnesota fought back, but simply could not overcome what proved to be a fatal first period. A costly penalty with three minutes left by the Gophers killed any chance of a comeback, and Minnesota will now hope to salvage the series with a split when they host the Huskies tomorrow at Mariucci Arena. The puck drops at 5 p.m. 1:01 3rd-Minnesota takes a timeout immediately following the conclusion of their penalty and has gone with an empty net. The penalty proved extremely costly, as it cost the Gophers to play shorthanded while attempting to tie the game at 4. The face off will be on the right face off circle of the St. Cloud zone. 3:11 3rd-A huge mental mistake by the Gophers. During a line change Zach Budish passed the puck toward the bench where it was touched during the change. Minnesota is called for too many men on the ice, with Birkholz getting chosen to serve the penalty. The penalty will leave Minnesota shorthanded for most of the remaining time in regulation as it attempts to complete its comeback. 4:20 3rd-Minnesota survives the power play with the score intact, but just barely. The Huskies fired shot after shot, and Kangas rewarded Lucia’s faith of keeping the goalie in net by making clutch save-after-save during the power play. Kangas stopped shots with his feet, chest and glove and is the reason this is still a one-goal game. 5:36 3rd-The Huskies came within one inch of scoring a critical fifth goal. A shot on net was stopped by Kangas and bounced in front. The goalie had no idea where the puck was, and the puck rested on the left pipe, one inch from getting inside the red line. The puck was eventually knocked out of play by a Gophers defenseman. 6:21 3rd-St. Cloud St. will be on the power play, as Minnesota’s David Fischer is cited for hooking. 8:13 3rd-On the man-advantage Cepis used his speed to create a two-on-one. Flying down the fight side he put a shot on net that was deflected off Dunn. The rebound shot by Budish was stopped and held onto by Dunn to stop play. 9:43 3rd-Cepis continues to affect the game, this time by drawing a penalty on St. Cloud St.’s Chris Hepp. Cepis was skating down the left boards when he tangled with Hepp, who was subsequently called for holding, giving Minnesota its first power play of the period. 13:41 3rd-The power play ends with no threats by St. Cloud. Minnesota actually managed a shot on goal shorthanded during the power play, but the puck was stopped by Dunn. The Gophers have maintained control of the game despite being down by 1, and are keeping the pressure in the St. Cloud zone. 16:08 3rd-A penalty on Minnesota’s Birkholz for tripping gives St. Cloud St. the first power play of the third period. The penalty on Birkholz is his second of the game. Second Intermission Re-Cap: Goals: Gophers 3 (Lucia, Cepis, Hansen [PP]; St. Cloud St. 1(Eddy) Shots on Goal: Gophers 15; St. Cloud St. 7 Penalties: Gophers 1;St. Cloud St. 2 Instant Analysis:What a second period for Minnesota. The Gophers cut the lead to 2 after a goal by Tony Lucia early in the second period. St. Cloud St. responded with their fourth goal of the game, threatening to put the game out of reach when that goal put the lead back to 3 for the Huskies. However the Gophers responded, with goals by Cepis and Hansen cutting the lead to 1, where it remains as we head to the third period. A win tonight would undoubtedly be Minnesota’s best of the season, after a disastrous first period put them in a three-goal hole. Don Lucia’s squad has fought back and is no doubt hoping to at least tie the game as they have grabbed all the momentum heading into the final period of regulation. Cepis’ goal is his fifth in seven games, as the remarkable start to his Gophers career continues. 00:51 2nd-After getting tangled with a St. Cloud forward, Minnesota’s Josh Birkholz is called for holding, giving the Huskies their first power play of the night. 1:50 2nd-A battle in front of the net ends with Minnesota’s Jake Hansen knocking in the power play goal. Jacob Cepis put the puck on net, where it rested in the crease of a wide open net. After a battle for the puck, Hansen knocked the puck in. The referee’s reviewed and kept the call on the ice. The Huskies seemingly insurmountable lead of 3 has now been cut to just 1. GOPHERS 3, ST. CLOUD ST. 4. 3:15 2nd-Minnesota will be on its second power play of the night and of the second period after St. Cloud St.’s Nick Oslund is called for elbowing. 3:35 2nd-A great kick save by Kangas keeps this game at a 4-2 Huskies lead. A two-on-one by St. Cloud ended with a shot fired on a goal, but a diving Kangas extended his right foot out just enough to knock the puck away behind the net and stop the chance. 4:38 2nd-The Gophers power play ends with multiple chances, but no scoring. Jacob Cepis had two chances in the crease, but chose to deke instead of put the puck on net. 6:54 2nd-Minnesota will be on its first power play of the night, as St. Cloud St.’s Chris Hepp was called for cross checking. 7:06 2nd-High-paced action continues on both ends. St. Cloud St. fired several shots, but they either went high of the net or were batted down by Kangas. On the other end, Minnesota had a two-on-two fast break, and fired two shots on goal. The attempts by Josh Birkholz and Cade Fairchild were stopped by Dunn. 10:53 2nd-Minnesota refuses to go away. A shot by Cepis was blocked by Dunn’s right foot, but the puck bounced back and into the net, cutting the Huskies lead to 2. GOPHERS 2, ST. CLOUD ST. 4. 13:40 2nd-Just like that, the lead gets pushed back up to 3. Tony Mosey took the puck behind the net and passed to David Eddy in front, who put a shot high past Kangas for the goal. GOPHERS 1, ST. CLOUD ST. 4. 15:32 2nd-Minnesota continues to push the issue in the St. Cloud zone. The Gophers continue to fire shots, in hopes they will get a second past Dunn to cut the Huskies lead to a much more manageable 1. 17:35 2nd-The offensive push by the Gophers finally results in a goal. Tony Lucia skated down the right side and fired a shot just inside the right face off circle that got past Dunn for the goal, cutting St. Cloud St.’s lead to 2. GOPHERS 1, ST. CLOUD ST. 3. 18:19 2nd-Minnesota put the pressure on early, showing obvious signs of desperation, which a three-goal first period will do to a team. The effort did not result in any goals, but is an encouraging sign that at the very least the team has not given up and will try and poke holes the Huskies lead. NOTE: Lucia is sticking with Kangas in net for at least the start of the second period. The goalie has not played bad, with two of the three goals coming from right in front of the net with little or no defensive support. First Intermission Re-Cap: Goals: Gophers 0; St. Cloud St. 3(Raboin, Festler, Roe) Shots on Goal: Gophers 7; St. Cloud St. 13 Penalties: Gophers 1; St. Cloud St. 1 Instant Analysis: A dominant first period of play ends fittingly with a Huskies goal. St. Cloud St. came out with more energy and out-skated, out-shot and out-chanced Minnesota, and the results show. Despite having several chances of its own, Minnesota could not capitalize and now will head to the locker room wondering what just happened. The Huskies scored early, late and very late en route to their three-goal lead. The magic number of 2 for Minnesota in terms of goals allowed has already been broken. The good news? There is still 40 minutes of play left to try and mount a comeback. The bad news? There is still 40 minutes left, and if the Gophers put forth the same lack of effort they displayed in the first period, it could be a very, very long night for Minnesota men’s hockey fans. Don’t be surprised if Kangas is replaced in net by sophomore Kent Patterson. Although it is unfair to place all the blame for a disastrous first period on Kangas, he did allow two goals past that he probably could have and should have stopped, although there was little he could do about the third goal. Goalies often do not survive staying in net after a three-goal period, so look for Gophers head coach Don Lucia to make the switch in net. 00:08 1st-With just eight seconds remaining in the period, the Huskies put what could very well be the dagger in the hearts of the Gophers. Garret Roe stole the puck at center ice and skated on a breakaway. Chased by two Minnesota defensemen, the junior put a shot past Kangas, giving St. Cloud St. a commanding third goal in just the first period of play. GOPHERS 0, ST. CLOUD ST. 3. 2:32 1st-Incidental penalties are issued to both teams. Minnesota’s Jacop Cepis is sent to the box for interference, while St. Cloud State’s Taylor Johnson is called for roughing. 3:35 1st-The lead is stretched to two on a great pass from Lasch. The senior found Jared Festler just outside the left slot, who used a deke to get Kangas out of position before putting the puck in the high right side of the net. The assist is Lasch’s second of the night. GOPHERS 0, ST. CLOUD ST. 2. 4:23 1st-Minnesota had its first chance of the night, but could not corral the puck in the slot. Jake Hansen took a pass directly in front of the net, but couldn’t control the puck before it slid away and was taken by a St. Cloud defenseman. 9:33 1st-The Huskies have used speed and reckless Gophers passing to control the pace of the game. Minnesota has not played smart with the puck halfway through the first, though they have managed to test Dunn early. 12:23 1st-A centering pass puts St. Cloud State on the board. On the right boards, Ryan Lasch put a pass right in front of the net, where a crashing Garrett Raboin put a shot in the slot directly in front of the net past Kangas for the goal. GOPHERS O, ST. CLOUD ST. 1.

14:48 1st-Early in the first period, action is non-stop on both ends. St. Cloud State has used their speed to push the tempo, already putting three shots on net. Minnesota has responded with runs of its own. Tony Lucia fired a shot from beyond the blue line that nearly got past Dan Dunn before the goalie was able to knock it away. The Gophers have put two shots on net thus far.