Gophers Blow Late Lead, Settle For Tie
Thanks to a late-game penalty and defensive zone faceoff loss, the Golden Gophers were forced to settle for a 3-3 tie against the Bemidji State Beavers on Friday night.
The Gophers got on the board less than two minutes into the contest as a centering pass from senior Patrick White found the back of the net off a BSU skate to give the Gophers a 1-0 lead.
However, the Beavers would head to the first intermission with a 2-1 lead thanks to a pair of goals from in front of the Gopher net. The first came from the stick of senior captain Matt Read, who tipped a point shot past Kent Patterson to knot the game at 1-1.
Later in the first, the Beavers would cash in on a loose puck to the left of Patterson to take the lead as Aaron McLeod tapped the puck into an open net to make it 2-1 BSU after one.
The Gophers would knot things up at 2-2 midway through the second as freshman Nick Bjugstad scored while BSU was down a pair of players to even the score at two aside.
On the injury front, juniors Aaron Ness and Taylor Matson both left the game during the second period with undisclosed injuries and did not return. The loss of Ness would, long-term, sting this team that has a lack of puck-moving defensemen, which of course is an area Ness excels in.
With just 3:40 left in the third period and the game still knotted at 2-2, senior Patrick White drove hard to the net and one-timed the puck past Bakala to make it 3-2 Minnesota.
However, after a controversial offensive zone penalty on Bjugstad with less than a minute to go in the game, the Beavers pulled their goalie, won an offensive zone draw and scored the game-tying goal with just a shade under 20 seconds to go in the third period thanks to a point shot from defenseman Brad Hunt, who threw a high wrist shot on net that found its way past Patterson.
The tie clinched home-ice for the Gophers in the first round of the WCHA playoffs but not getting the win could prove costly come NCAA Tournament time for a Gopher team squarely on the bubble and desperately needing to improve its position in the PairWise Rankings.
The Gophers will look to win the series in the rematch on Saturday at 7 p.m.