MINNEAPOLIS — No. 7 Minnesota overcame a pair of power-play goals and five penalties late in the second period as Jerrid Reinholz’s goal with two minutes, 57 seconds to play in the third period gave the Gophers a 2-2 tie with No. 15 Minnesota State at Mariucci Arena.
The Gophers (12-6-6, 7-4-4 WCHA), who outshot their guests 36-21, outplayed the Mavericks (10-7-7, 8-5-5) for the first 30 minutes of the game. However, when the game got feisty, Minnesota lost its focus.
“We lost our composure there in the second period,” Gopher head coach Don Lucia said. “We’ve got to keep our discipline and worry about the things we can control and how disciplined we’re going to be.”
“I was a little surprised at how many penalties there were,” MSU coach Troy Jutting said of the 19-penalty second period. “That’s not to say they weren’t penalties, it’s just surprising to have that many penalties. We’re both skating teams and there was just one penalty in the first period and three in the third.”
A battle around the Minnesota State goal at 12:27 of the second period resulted in seven of them, putting the Gophers on the power play. However, they managed just one shot before Tyler Hirsch took a penalty for slashing the goalie with one second left in the man advantage, setting off a string of six more infractions, five on the hosts.
The series of penalties resulted in three Minnesota players in the penalty box at one time and, with 1:15 remaining in the period, B.J. Abel’s slapshot from the top of the right circle found the back of the net to tie the game at 1-1.
The Gophers were still down two men after the goal and it took the Mavericks less than a minute to take the lead as Cole Bassett’s shot from the low slot was tipped into the air and behind Minnesota goalie Travis Weber.
Although they weren’t happy with the situation, the Gophers regained their composure and continued their dominance in the final period, outshooting MSU 18-4 while attempting 32 shots to the Mavericks’ five.
Netminder Jon Volp kept Minnesota State in the game, finishing the game with 34 saves, but he was unable to give his team a win when Reinholz scored his third goal of the season.
“(Jon) Waibel threw it out front of the net,” he said. “I managed to get a stick on it, somehow, and the next thing I knew it was in the back of the net.”
The most positive note for the Gophers was the return of captain Grant Potulny, absent from the lineup for three months after breaking his ankle in the first game of the season.
The MVP of last year’s Frozen Four assisted on Troy Riddle’s goal at 14:36 of the first period, a snap shot from the right circle over Volp’s shoulder, and didn’t seem to miss a step after missing 22 games.
“It felt great to be out there,” he said. “Especially with the support of my teammates and the fans. With everyone behind, it was a lot easier and it’s always nice to get on the scoresheet.”
Despite the Gophers’ dominance throughout much of the game, Minnesota State ran its unbeaten streak to 10 games, six of which have gone to overtime; in seven of those games, the Mavericks have given up the game’s first goal.
Still, Jutting realized his team was fortunate to come away with a tie.
“We did not have it tonight,” he said. “I thought Minnesota did a great job and really took it to us in the first period. We didn’t have the jump in our step that we normally do.”
Nonetheless, the point kept the Mavericks four points ahead of the Gophers, who have four games in hand, and three points ahead of fourth-place St. Cloud State, a 3-2 winner over Minnesota-Duluth.
The teams conclude their series with a matinee game Saturday afternoon at Mariucci Arena. The game, originally scheduled for 7:05 p.m., was moved up five hours to accommodate the Gophers’ men’s basketball game, a nationally-televised contest. The series finale gets underway at 2:05 p.m. CST.