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A goal in the closing minute from Ben Marshall capped a comeback for the Gophers and prevented Bemidji State from an upset for the second straight night. "They put their foot on the gas pedal for the final 15 minutes,' BSU coach Tom Serratore said of Minnesota. "That's the sign of a championship team. ... Too bad there's no results to show for it (because) I thought we played a very good hockey game."
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Bemidji State tried to steal Game 1, with Andrew Walsh turning aside 49 shots. But it wasn't enough. Kyle Rau scored at 13:18 of overtime to give Minnesota the win. It came off a faceoff win by Nick Bjugstad, who got it back to the point. A shot was blocked, but caromed right to Rau, who buried it. BSU had tied it with 38 seconds left in regulation, leaving the Gophers temporarily stunned. Minnesota goalie Adam Wilcox also had to stop two breakaways in regulation and a big kick save in overtime. The goal was Rau's seventh game winner of the season.
"We felt as it was going on, we scored that goal, good things could happen," BSU coach Tom Serratore said. "But they had 50 shots, pushed the pace, and that's a hard-working team. ... It's a good hockey game, but we have to forget about it. It stings, but you just have to wipe it out of your memory bank."
Wisconsin may be enemies to Minnesota on the playing fields -- but they are Big Ten brothers in arms. And Saturday, Minnesota can thank its most storied enemy for helping it win the MacNaughton Cup. Wisconsin defeated St. Cloud State, which allowed Minnesota, with the win Saturday and a sweep of the series, to tie the Huskies for first place and share the Cup in its final season in the league. Minnesota will still be the second seed in the playoffs, because the Huskies win the tiebreaker. ... Erik Haula and Nick Bjugstad scored in the first and that was pretty much all Minnesota needed, as it rolled. ... Bemidji finishes 11th, and so that means these teams will meet again next weekend in a best-of-3. If this weekend was any indication, the Gophers will not need three games to close things out.
Wisconsin took a 3-0 lead and held off Bemidji to get three points on the weekend, and stay close to the top of a tight pack in the WCHA. Assistant captain Derek Lee came back from missing three games due to injury, to get a goal and an assist. “He’s a big energy guy,” Brendan Woods said of Lee. “He's the leader. He gets the guys going when we’re down.”
“We’ll try to win games any way we can,” Lee said. “I think we’ve seen in different weekends throughout the season this year that we can play at a higher level. We’re looking to do that game in and game out, so we know it’s there. We just have to harness that and bring it to every weekend.” Wisconsin is now in a three-way tie for fifth place in the conference and just one point out of third place, with six conference games remaining. “We’ve carved out this little path for ourselves to make something here,” Lee said. “We just have to make sure we’re all pulling the rope in the same direction and ready for each game.”
St. Cloud just keeps on rolling. The Huskies get a sweep of the weekend, outscoring Bemidji State 8-1, and are now unbeaten in six. Nic Dowd, Ben Hanowski and Jonny Brodzinski all scored their 12th of the season in Friday's win.
While everyone else is getting all the publicity lately, UNO continues to go about its business, winning games. The sweep enabled the Mavericks to move into a tie for second in the WCHA. Friday, Matt White (14) had two more goals in a 5-3 win. This night, it was Dominic Zumbo and Josh Archibald, whose fathers once played on a line together at North Dakota, getting the big goals as UNO squeaked it out. It should be mentioned that John Faulkner has stepped it out, carrying the load in net now since Anthony Stolarz decided to bolt for major junior.
A couple of teams still looking for consistency this season, get a fitting split of the weekend. Andrew Walsh, who hadn't started in three weeks, came up big for Bemidji on Saturday, making 33 saves to preserve the win. UMD continued a pattern of playing worse in the second game of a two-game weekend -- now 0-6-2 in that scenario on the season. “Overall we might’ve played better (Saturday) than Friday, but it ended up to be just an average weekend,” UMD center Justin Crandall told the Duluth News-Tribune. “We ended up getting frustrated because Bemidji was playing such hard-nosed defense. We need a mind set that we have to step up and finish the series.”
Bemidji's mastery over UNO continues. The Beavers got a late second-period goal, and killed off a major penalty in the third.
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