January 28, 2017 PRINT Bookmark and Share

Minnesota-Duluth Bests Minnesota Again to Reach North Star Cup Final

CHN Staff Report

ST. PAUL, Minn. — A few weeks ago, Minnesota-Duluth's 6-foot-5 freshman Riley Tufte, a first-round NHL Draft pick of Dallas, hadn't scored his first NCAA goal and didn't even have a point. Now, seven games later, he has five goals and three assists, and his first-period goal Saturday at Xcel Energy Center ignited the Bulldogs rally past Minnesota, 3-2, in the semifinal of the North Star College Cup.

Tufte's goal tied the game late in the first period. Alex Iafallo and Avery Peterson scored after that, and UMD withstood a furious third-period rally by the Gophers to get the win. The Bulldogs have never won this tournament, which ends after this season, and haven't won any in-season tournament since 2001-02. It gets a chance Saturday against St. Cloud State.

"Riley's goal was big because it gave us some momentum going into the second period," Duluth coach Scott Sandelin said. "It seemed we gave them every opportunity to get back in the game, but our guys held down the fort. It's a big win for our team."

The win was the seventh straight by Minnesota-Duluth over rival Minnesota. The teams played against each other for many years in the old WCHA, but are now separated by different conferences.

“We turned one over coming out of our own zone (on the first goal), when the play should have just been off the glass. We didn’t make a heavy enough play,” Minnesota coach Don Lucia said.

Brent Gates had both Minnesota goals, both on the power play. The second one came with an extra attacker as well, with 39 seconds left in regulation. Minnesota outshot UMD 22-2 in the third period, but Hunter Miska's 37 saves were enough to hold down the fort. Minnesota is 14-7-2 and No. 8 in the Pairwise. Minnesota-Duluth maintained the No. 1 spot.

“I thought we had a good push to begin the game,” Lucia said. “Ultimately when you play good teams you make some mistakes and they’re going to make you pay.”

The Bulldogs went 3-1 against St. Cloud State during the regular season and took down the Huskies 4-3 in overtime in the most recent meeting between the two clubs.

In the other semifinal, St. Cloud State defeated Bemidji State, 2-1.

The Bemidji State penalty-kill unit, which has been the Beavers’ strength all season, faltered early allowing the Huskies to go up 1-0 just over six minutes into play on a goal by Jacob Benson.

The 1-0 lead would hold through the end of the period, and the Huskies eventually extended it to a 2-0 edge in the second period. Blake Winiecki slid the puck across the front of the crease and just inside the far post for his 11th goal of the season.

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