Gophers Can’t Hold On, Get Swept
Two Nate Shore Goals Send Gophers Home Limping Badly
This weekend turned out to be not awesome.
Nate Shore scored a power play goal with 1:26 remaining and then picked his way through a porous Gophers defense to pound home the winner just 17 seconds into overtime for a 4 – 3 Pioneer win on Saturday night. We'll see how badly this one turns out to be in a few weeks, but right now this is just a sour result for the maroon & gold.
The line shuffling that occurred due to the Kyle Rau suspension was a bit odd at first glance, but it worked – to begin anyway.
Erik Haula, who had a terrible game on Friday night, rebounded a bit on Saturday. He started by intercepting a bad Denver pass in the neutral zone and scoring an unassisted goal, 38 seconds into the game. He bounced off of a hit at the top of the circles, and roasted Sam Brittain over his far-side shoulder.
But a lot like Friday, Denver started to take momentum as the game moved towards the middle of the period. But the Gophers gained some traction with a good penalty kill and had a few chances of their own as the period wound down.
Things were going along just as a road team would want – quiet crowd, even balance of play. And the Gophers took advantage of a bad non-call but couldn’t hold serve.
While on the power play, a pass back to the point to Jake Parenteau appeared to have gone over the blue line. The referee did not blow the whistle, and the Gophers took advantage. After a scrum in front, Denver d-man Scott Mayfield scored an own goal while trying to fight off Zach Budish, and it looked like the Gophers would hold a two goal lead going into intermission.
But thankfully for the Magness Arena medical staff, they did not.
Pioneer coach George Gwozdecky was about to have a heart attack screaming at the officials, but then the Pioneers got a break of their own. Denver forward Chris Knowlton grabbed the puck at center ice and spilt the Gopher defense. Patterson couldn’t rescue his team and Denver cut the lead in half going into intermission after getting beat over his glove hand.
After getting an early third period power play, back to back stupid penalties by Jake Hansen and Zach Budish lead to a tying power play goal by Denver forward Luke Salazar.
Gopher fans then experienced some familiar highs and lows as a tie game moved on into the later stages of the third period.
Nico Sacchetti finished off a pass from Sam Warning and it appeared the Gophers would take home two points. But an accidental high-stick sent the Pioneers to the power play with three minutes left and Nate Shore tied it up after another terrible breakdown in front of Patterson.
As disappointing as that was – the worst was yet to come. Just seconds into overtime, the Gophers totally ignored Shore after a faceoff and he stepped through two players and dunked the puck behind Patterson for the sweep.
This was just an awful result tonight – the Gophers desperately needed to take home points in this series; now their hold on not only first place in the WCHA but a coveted top two spot is very much up for grabs. And into Mariucci next weekend is Bemidji State, who will be fired up, fresh off of a weekend sweep of Colorado College. Both games start at 7PM and will most likely have a playoff intensity to them.