Gophers tie with Kangas on the bench

Sophomore goaltender Alex Kangas watched his first game of the season from the bench Friday night as the Gophers tied 2-2.

Paul Bangasser

Sophomore goaltender Alex Kangas watched his first game of the season from the bench Friday night as the Gophers tied 2-2.

A multitude of bad bounces kept the Minnesota menâÄôs hockey team from creeping any closer to Minnesota-Duluth in the race for fifth in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. With Alex Kangas watching from the bench âÄì breaking the sophomoreâÄôs streak of 51 straight starts âÄì and freshman Kent Patterson making his first start in goal, the Gophers came back from a pair of one-goal deficits to tie the Bulldogs 2-2 in overtime. For Minnesota (13-11-7 overall, 10-10-5 WCHA), bad bounces went both ways. Kevin Wehrs and Ryan Fynn both put point-blank shots off the wrong side of the netting in the first period before Minnesota-DuluthâÄôs Matt Greer found an errant rebound on his stick and slid it around Patterson at the 4:00 mark of the period. The Gophers caught a bounce of their own later in the period when Flynn knocked down a clearing pass by Bulldogs goalie Alex Stalock and assisted on Patrick WhiteâÄôs sixth goal of the season. But the first tie of the night wouldnâÄôt last very far into the second period as Nick Kemp scored 12 seconds in on a goal that Patterson said he scored on himself. âÄúI actually saw the replay, it hit off the pipe, hit off my skate and went in,âÄù the freshman said. âÄúItâÄôs just one of those unfortunate things you have to look past.âÄù It didnâÄôt take long for the team to get past it. Jordan Schroeder showed why heâÄôs one of the top prospects for next yearâÄôs NHL Entry Draft when he faked a shot to draw Stalock out of the net before deking around the fallen netminder and scoring his 13th of the season. âÄúWe were scouting Stalock, so I knew heâÄôd come out pretty far,âÄù Schroeder said. âÄúI faked the shot and went around him to the open net.âÄù SchroederâÄôs goal, along with the Gophers killing of Jake HansenâÄôs five-minute major for checking from behind, sparked a momentum swing that carried Minnesota through the third until fatigue set in during overtime. But the Gophers inability to gain ground on Minnesota-Duluth only puts more pressure on the team for tomorrowâÄôs series finale. Win, and the Gophers could be tied with the Bulldogs and thus hold home ice advantage by way of a tie breaker. Lose, and MinnesotaâÄôs chances of home ice are virtually wiped out. âÄúTomorrow nightâÄôs going to be a really big game for us obviously,âÄù White said. âÄúPicking up three points this weekend is going to be crucial for our standings towards the end of the season here.âÄù Despite PattersonâÄôs performance âÄì he stopped 34 shots of the 36 he face âÄì coach Don Lucia said it didnâÄôt guarantee him a start tomorrow. In fact, it nearly sounded like heâÄôs leaning towards starting Kangas for what White said was the seasonâÄôs âÄúbiggest game thus far.âÄù But Patterson said heâÄôs just happy to be given a chance. âÄúI just wanted to get out there and play. IâÄôve been itching to get in there all year,âÄù Patterson said. âÄúIâÄôd have taken anything really. IâÄôve been wanting to play for the Gophers all my life.âÄù