Sweep-tastic: Gophers survive furious rally to win in Duluth again
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While celebrating last season's NCAA title, UMD is wearing throwback sweaters at home all season. And for this weekend, it was a throwback to the days where the Gopher hockey team dominated their northern neighbors nearly every time they played.
On Saturday, the Gophers scored a trio of power play goals and survived a furious rally, sweeping the Bulldogs with a 5-4 win. Goalie Kent Patterson made the difference again, stopping 46 shots as Minnesota improved to 4-0-0.
Nate Condon is suddenly the hot hand for the Gophers. After scoring the overtime winner on Friday, he scored two more on Saturday, as Minnesota got five goals on just 15 shots.
Some in sports say they'd rather be lucky than good. The Gophers were heavy on the former and light on the latter in the first 20 minutes. UMD took a lead and ignited the crowd less than a minute into the game, when Travis Oleksuk blasted a rising shot past Kent Patterson after Minnesota defenseman Nate Schmidt had turned the puck over at the far blue line.
The Bulldogs led 2-0 on a 5-on-3 power play goal by Jack Connolly, and nearly made it 3-0 when defenseman Brady Lamb clanked the post behind Patterson later in the first.
And then the momentum swung to the visitors' bench, as Jake Hansen got a power play goal of his own, cutting the UMD lead in half. Despite being out-played and out-shot by an 18-4 margin in the first, the Gophers emerged tied 2-2 when Bulldogs goalie Kenny Reiter failed to lasso a bouncing puck in front of the net, and a UMD defenseman, in an attempt to gain control, slipped the puck under Reiter's pad for a costly "own goal."
The Gophers led 5-2 late and seemed to be cruising, before the Bulldogs showed some late bite, scoring twice to ignite the home crowd, and pressing hard for the final three minutes. The final horn sounded with the Gophers on top, but not before a last-second shot hit Patterson's pad and bounced away.
"I felt comfortable at 5-2 and I felt comfortable at 5-4. You just have to make sure you're playing the same game," said Patterson. "You can't put any more pressure on yourself. It was (2-0) early in the game, but you've just got to make sure you do your job. You can't score the goals."
Driving hard to the Gophers net in the second period, UMD's Mike Seidel collided with Patterson, who had come out to poke-check the puck. Seidel was whistled for charging the goalie on the play, which sent UMD coach Scott Sandelin into a near-meltdown. Condon scored on the ensuing power play to give the Gophers a two-goal lead, and effectively take the air out of the home crowd.
- 6,784: Saturday night's attendance - the largest home crowd in UMD history.
• 6: Shots on goal the Gophers needed to get their first four goals.
- 100: Shots that Patterson faced this weekend.
• 100%: Gophers efficiency on the power play.
"Our specialties won us the weekend - our specialties and our goaltender. We gave up one power play each night, but I thought our killers did a great job." - Gophers coach Don Lucia.
"You score four goals a game, you think you're probably going to win those games. But we see some areas where we've got to get better. The difference was special teams all weekend. Their power played scored and they were opportunistic with their shots." - Bulldogs coach Scott Sandelin.
Bulldogs - Travis Oleksuk 4 (Lamb), 0:45
Bulldogs - Jack Connolly 1 (Brown, Kishel), 7:11, PPG
Gophers - Jake Hansen 2 (Haula, Bjugstad), 12:05, PPG
Gophers - Nate Condon 2 (unassisted), 16:19
Gophers - Nick Bjugstad 3 (unassisted), 1:10
Gophers - Condon 3 (Matson, Marshall), 12:10, PPG
Gophers - Kyle Rau 4 (Schmidt, Bjugstad), 10:02, PPG
Bulldogs - Caleb Herbert 2 (Crandall), 11:38
Bulldogs - J.T. Brown 2 (unassisted), 14:55
Shots: Gophers 4-6-6-16; Bulldogs 18-12-20-50. Saves: Gophers, Kent Patterson (46-50); Bulldogs, Kenny Reiter (11-16). Power plays: Gophers 3-for-3, Bulldogs 1-6.
Back home again for some non-conference action, the Gophers will host Vermont in two-game set next weekend. Minnesota has never before played the Catamounts.