WORCESTER, Mass. — After a double-overtime opening game of the 2001 NCAA East Regional, game two between the fifth-seeded Maine Black Bears and the number-four seed Minnesota Golden Gophers could reach the same destiny.
Through two periods, the clubs are deadlocked, 2-2.
After the Gophers controlled the play through the opening period, outshooting Maine, 14-7, the Black Bears evened the flow through the second. Though only outshooting Minnesota 10-9 in the frame, Maine dominated the offensive chances.
Early in the game, though, Minnesota had the best chances, taking the play to Maine in the offensive zone. Fourth liner Erik Wendell had a golden opportunity at 3:09 when he was sent in alone on Yates. Aiming left corner, Wendell’s shot was saved by Yates’ right shoulder.
Just over a minute later, the Gophers had a second opportunity when defensemen Paul Martin set up Jeff Taffe alone at the right post. The sophomore, though, misfired on the empty net and hit the near post, keeping the game scoreless.
Scoreless only until the first power play, as the Gophers’ special teams took only nine seconds after Maine’s Dan Kerluke was sent off for hooking to get on the board. With Yates unable to freeze an Erik Westrum shot, Johnny Pohl continued to bang at the rebound until it finally snuck behind Yates and just over the goal line. The goal at 7:50 gave Minnesota a 1-0 lead.
The chances didn’t stop there for the Gophers. After a botched 2-on-1 by Maine, Minnesota countered, sending Taffe in alone at 12:36. Yates stood his ground as Taffe tried to stuff the puck five-hole, keeping the lead to one.
A late penalty to Minnesota’s Jordan Leopold for holding gave the Black Bears their first chance to control the offense, and led to Maine tying the game. With just 5.6 seconds remaining in the frame, Todd Jackson was sent in alone on a feed from Robert Liscak. Skating from the right post to the left, Jackson fired a shot that squeaked through the pads of Minnesota goaltender Adam Hauser to even the game at one.
In the second, an early penalty to Pohl allowed the Black Bears to finally take over control of play. But even though the Black Bears generated plenty of grade-A chances, few were on net. At 7:44, Maine’s Lucas Lawson had the best bid, but was stopped on the doorstep by Hauser.
As so often happens, a fluke play turned the game around exactly one minute later. After the Black Bears turned the puck over at the defensive blue line, a Westrum one-timer was deflected by a surprised Grant Potulny. The puck changed directions and floated over the shoulder of Yates, giving Minnesota a 2-1 lead.
But 1:56 later, Maine answered. Cutting in on goal two-on-two, Dan Kerluke, at the same time getting leveled by the Minnesota defense, feathered a pass to Lawson. Not to be denied this time, Lawson pulled the puck around Hauser, stuffing home the equalizer at 10:40