Gophers Come Back for a Sweep Over the Beavers
Boyd Nets Game Winning Goal with Third Goal of Weekend
Photo by: Craig Cotner Connor Reilly with a goal against BSU. Minneapolis, Minn. – Coaches ask their teams for a good 60-minutes each night, but sometimes a good 40 is all you need. Minnesota (4-0-0) came up with just enough Saturday for a 5-3 win, earning a home opening series sweep over Bemidji State (1-3-0) in front of 9,849 at Mariucci Arena.
The Beavers got on the board 2:16 into the first period when Ruslan Pedan intentionally caromed his point shot off the back dasher toward the front of the net. Markus Gerbrandt got there first and tapped the puck over Adam Wilcox’s pads. The goal put the Gophers behind for the first time this season.
“It’s a different game when you’re trailing and I thought we did a good job battling back tonight,” said Travis Boyd.
Connor Reilly evened up the game 1-1, one-timing a saucer pass from Boyd just under the bar at 12:31 for a 5-on-3 power play goal. Kyle Rau then made it 2-1 at 15:07 with his third goal of the season. Mike Reilly passed the puck into Rau’s skates, but the captain patiently waited out the goalie and wristed the puck through traffic into the upper left corner for his third of the season and 50th career goal.
“We had a good first period, and then the period moved on in the second without a lot going on,” said Don Lucia. “They took advantage of a couple mistakes.”
Minnesota seemed to lose their legs and heads during their first true back-to-back series of the season. The Gophers chipped the puck around the rink, couldn’t get into transition, and either failed to support the puck coming out of the zone or the forwards lost all of their neutral zone speed by skating themselves too far ahead of the play
Bemidji State went on the power play midway through the period and just as Minnesota came to full strength, Nate Arentz controlled the puck behind the goal line and found Matt Prapavessis nearly on the doorstep. The Beaver captain had plenty of time and space to place the puck back across Wilcox into the bottom right corner, tying the game 2-2 at 10:50. A sloppy reverse play between Jake Bischoff and Ben Marshall minutes later led to the puck bouncing right to Gerbrandt, and the junior forward converted a backhand for his second of the game at 12:45.
The Gophers finally got a clean zone entry with speed late in the period. Sam Warning skated down the right wing pushing back the Beaver defense; Mike Reilly filled into the open space to receive a pass, and then quickly moved it to Justin Kloos on the left wing. Kloos one-timed the puck beating Bemidji State goalie Andrew Walsh coming across the crease. It was Kloos’ second goal of the season and tied the game 3-3 at 16:40.
Special teams were a key for Minnesota the entire weekend, and both the kill and power play had to show up early in the third period. The Gophers killed off a slashing penalty 4:13 into the third period, and then got an opportunity to go on a man advantage right after from a Beaver slashing penalty at 6:14. Minnesota went right to work setting up their umbrella, moving the puck from Taylor Cammarata on the half-wall, down to Rau along the goal line and then over to Boyd who wristed the puck back across Walsh to make it 4-3 7:00 into the third period.
The Gophers went 4 for 10 on the power play against the Beavers and technically killed off 8 of 9 penalties. Minnesota also has a power play goal in every game so far this season.
Brady Skjei got the empty net goal at 19:42 to make it 5-3 and allowed the band to cue up the “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”
Next weekend Minnesota plays a home and home with St. Cloud State. Friday night’s game is a 7:30 PM puck drop at the renovated Herb Brooks National Hockey Center (FOX Sports North PLUS, 1500 ESPN). Saturday’s game is back at Mariucci Arena with an early 4:00 PM start (FOX Sports North, BTN2Go.com, 1500 ESPN).