Gophers Uneven in 3-2 Loss to Huskies
Second period goals from Bischoff and Bristedt not enough.
Minneapolis, Minn—Don Lucia has stressed that his young college hockey team needs to find more consistency on game night. Minnesota (4-6-0) certainly didn’t have it against #7 St. Cloud State (10-3-0) and lost 3-2 in front of 10,280 at Mariucci Arena.
“We’re not good enough to play that way,” said Lucia. “I thought there was too much on the forecheck of poke and hope, trying to poke a puck by someone not playing the body. I didn’t think we had great energy as far as the pace of our play.”
St. Cloud State took advantage of Minnesota’s soft start and jumped out to a lead 3:28 into the first period. The Huskies power play got going 1:40 into the game, touched the puck cleanly around the top of their umbrella power play, and found David Morley all alone on the back door for his sixth goal of the season.
“This team is one of the best teams at seaming the puck,” said Ryan Collins. “We know that going in though, and we’ve got to take away those lanes.”
Collins put the slow start on the players for not coming out fast enough, and losing the 10-minute game. The big defensemen thought penalties got them in trouble early, but his team started generating some offense after getting pucks behind the Huskies defensemen.
The Gophers turned the tide of play in the second. A strong forecheck by the Leon Bristedt-Tommy Novak-Hudson Fasching line put Minnesota on the power play and Jake Bischoff capitalized on it. It looked like the Gophers were lucky to hold the zone as Vinni Lettieri and Bristedt one-touched passes just out of reach of the penalty killers, and when the puck came to Bischoff, his one-timer slap shot got past St. Cloud State goaltender Charlie Lindgren.
Minnesota tallied another goal just over a minute later when Novak chipped the puck behind the net, Lindgren had been on the top of the paint to challenge a shot, and when the puck went behind, Bristedt beat the goalie to the far post with a wraparound goal. It was the Swede’s sixth of the season and capped off scoring for a dominating period for the Gophers where they outshot the visitors 12-2.
However, the third period belonged to St. Cloud St. as they outshot Minnesota 15-7.
“We started mismanaging the puck, that’s one thing we talk about going into third periods with a lead—we need to mange the puck well,” said Collins. “Right from that first shift we didn’t do that and it got us in trouble.”
The Huskies got the game winner on a beauty give and go play between Joey Benik and Morley. Benik dished the puck to his linemate in the slot, beat his check to the net, and one-timed a pass home from the far post at 7:16. Eric Schierhorn had to play the shooter, couldn’t get back in time, and was beaten for a thrid time on the back door.
“We made a big mistake for the third goal,” said Lucia. “When a forward was down with Benik, for whatever reason leaves him, and they make a nice play—which they can do—on the back door and score.”
Minnesota had been working on end game situations during their off week and it looked like the final group of Bristedt-Novak-Fasching-Bischoff-Michael Brodzinksi-Justin Kloos were on the same page moving the puck and generating chances. Lindgren stood his ground throughout the pressure though, including making a big save on Kloos with 25 seconds to go.
“I don’t want to focus on them, it’s about us, and I’m disappointed with how we finished the game,” said Bristedt. “Too much up and downs in our game right now. I wish I had answers to it why it is like that, but just have to break it down and come back.”
The Gophers played at 6 PM Friday as Fox Sports North needed the early puck drop to fit between the Wild and Wolves. They’ll play St. Cloud State for another early 6 PM face-off on Sunday at Mariucci Arena.