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College Hockey:
Chucko’s OT Goal Lifts Gophers

Minnesota Sweeps Minnesota State

— Minnesota downed Minnesota State, 3-2, in overtime on a goal off the skate of freshman phenom Kris Chucko. The goal was contested, but stood for the Gopher victory.

“We have been talking about it all week. Try and go to the net hard and good things will happen. It went off my skate. If I had kicked it in, we would still be out there,” said Chucko.

Minnesota State coach Troy Jutting had a different take. “If it goes off a skate, it’s no longer a goal.”

But Minnesota coach Don Lucia thought otherwise.

“Not to my knowledge. It’s the same as your shoulder or leg. You just can’t kick it in,” said Lucia. “The referee called it a goal right away.”

From the replay it appeared Chucko was just starting to turn away from the net as he approached the crease on the centering pass from senior Garrett Smaagaard. The puck hit his skate and deflecting in, beating Mavericks netminder Jon Volp at 1:48 of overtime.

“It’s always tough to swallow an overtime loss,” said Jutting.

Nonetheless, for the Mavericks it was a much better defensive effort than their 9-2 Friday night loss.

“I think we were 100 percent better defensively tonight. We played smart,” said Jutting.

Lucia agreed. “We had to work hard tonight. There was not much space 5-on-5. They played much tighter. They probably got their butts chewed for last night.”

The more defensive game caused for a slow start for both teams, as crowd spotting was one of the only highlights of the first period, which was marred by penalties and dismal power plays.

Minnesota failed to muster a shot on goal for the first 15 minutes of the stanza, while the Mavericks squandered a minute of 5-on-3 midway through the period.

Eventually, though, the ghosts and goblins of Halloween came out a night early at Mariucci to provide the excitement for Gopher fans. A glance through the crowd revealed Batman, the Green Hornet, Marilyn Monroe, Ninja Turtles, M&M’s, a butterfly, a nurse, a hippie, a convict, a few princesses, men in drag — or were they just ugly princesses? — and a blind referee.

If one looked hard enough they might have found Waldo. Goldy the Ghost even entertained the crowd in the first intermission.

The hometown skaters did provide a treat for the crowd by scoring the only goal of the period on their third shot at 15:51, by freshman defenseman Derek Peltier on the power play. Peltier cheated in from the right point on the weak side, and Gino Guyer found him on a cross-ice centering pass.

Despite having to kill off three minor penalties, Minnesota State carried the play in the second. The Mavericks had numerous quality scoring chances on fast breaks, but seemed to suffer from a case of bad puck luck.

Minnesota showed its youth with numerous mistakes, and simply could not put together consecutive passes, even on the man-advantage. The Mavericks beat the Gophers to loose pucks and caused the inexperienced Gophers to make bad decisions with the puck.

“They did a good job pressuring us,” said Lucia.

The Mavericks’ hustle finally paid off at 3:34 of third when David Backes forced a turnover by Minnesota defenseman Chris Harrington at the right blueline. Backes stole the puck on a pass off the boards and broke in one-on-one with Harrington, beating Minnesota netminder Kellen Briggs to his glove side on a screened shot.

That goal opened up the game for both teams. Minnesota continued the third period fireworks when sophomore sniper Ryan Potulny tapped in the rebound off a Tyler Hirsch shot at 7:18 on the power play.

The Mavericks tied it up on a power-play goal at 12:39 on Backes’ second of the game. It was a beautiful 1-2-3 goal where Minnesota State moved the puck around the circle. Steve Johns and Kurtis Kisio were credited on the assists.

Next week Minnesota State plays host to Bemidji State, while Minnesota faces off against rival Wisconsin at home.

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