HOUGHTON, Mich. — Michigan Tech backup goaltender Rob Nolan stopped 48 Minnesota shots, helping the Huskies salvage one point in their Winter Carnival series with the Golden Gophers via a 2-2 tie.
Unlike the goaltending on Friday night, both Nolan and Minnesota’s Kellen Briggs (32 saves) were sharp in net. Also different from Friday night’s game was the physical level of play throughout Saturday evening’s contest. A total of 21 penalties were called by referee Jeff Albers.
Phil Kessel got the Gophers on the board with a four-on-three power-play goal at 13:57 of the first period. After exchanging passes with defenseman Alex Goligoski at the blue line, Kessel held the puck at center point and crept down the slot, firing a low wrister that beat Nolan five-hole for a 1-0 advantage.
With about 40 seconds left in the first frame, the Huskies pressured the visitors and got the equalizer on a power play of their own at 19:34. On the initial rush, a shot found its way through traffic and got by Briggs, but defenseman Chris Harrington got his stick on the puck before it crossed the goal line and fired it out of the crease.
Unfortunately for the Gophers, the puck stayed in the zone and made its way to Tech defenseman Lars Helminen at center point. Helminen’s slapshot missed the net wide right, but the puck caromed straight off the back boards to a waiting Tyler Shelast, who didn’t miss from the near post.
Of sophomore Shelast’s 19 career goals, 17 have been scored on the power play. Earning the second assist on the play was freshman left winger Justin St. Louis.
Minnesota regained the lead at the 2:14 mark of period two. Gino Guyer won an offensive zone faceoff, pulling it back to Goligoski at the left point. Goligoski stickhandled neatly from the top of the circle into the slot and wristed the puck past Nolan to put the Gophers back on top 2-1.
To the delight of the local Winter Carnival faithful, the visitors’ lead lasted only until the 4:34 mark of the final period. A Minnesota turnover to the right of Briggs resulted in a blocked Taggart Desmet shot out front.
However, the bouncing puck found its way to the stick of cruising winger Nick Anderson, who bagged his second goal of the weekend from five feet out at the opposite side of the cage.
From that point on until the end of overtime, neither team could muster the game winner. A couple of Nolan’s best stops late included one off a Ryan Stoa one-timer directly in front and another in OT, as defenseman Mike Vannelli charged down low left with his shot and rebound bouncing directly yet harmlessly up the slot.
By a 9-6 margin in scoring, Minnesota claimed the MacInnes Cup, the trophy awarded to the team that wins the two-game, total-goal series during Winter Carnival weekend. Vannelli took series MVP honors after chalking up two goals and one assist.