MINNEAPOLIS — Second-ranked Minnesota outpowered Minnesota State 3-2 on the strength of three power-play goals in a tightly-contested battle Friday night at Mariucci Arena.
“It was a good hockey game,” said Minnesota State coach Mike Hastings. “We have to find a way to kill a penalty.”
Minnesota took its first lead of the game at 5:40 of the third on a power-play goal by Zach Budish. Nate Schmidt set the play with a shot from the top of the circles. Kyle Rau backhanded the rebound into the pads of Phil Cook and then Budish hammered the loose puck home for the game-winner.
“The power play came alive, which we needed to have,” said Minnesota coach Don Lucia. “[Goalie] Adam [Wilcox] made a couple saves when we needed him. It was a hard-fought game.”
“I thought we turned over a few pucks that lengthen shifts that ended in a power play taking penalties,” added Hastings.
Budish’s goal ended a three-game scoreless drought by the junior captain. Just a few minutes earlier, Budish hit the cross bar. Minnesota had juggled its lines, reuniting last year’s top line of Budish, Rau and Nick Bjugstad.
“We thought we had to get Budi going,” Lucia said. “He ended up getting the game-winning goal. In that point, it worked.”
The Mavericks fought hard down the stretch to tie the game, including a few high-grade chances. In the end, a late charging penalty with nine seconds left iced the game for the Gophers.
“I thought they played well with the lead,” Hastings said. “We had a couple looks and didn’t finish.”
Minnesota State regained the lead 2-1 at 9:33 of the second on a goal by Teddy Blueger. The Mavericks were applying pressure in deep. Zach Lehrke took a shot from right side along the goal line. The puck trickled behind Wilcox six inches in front of the line. Blueger reached in as Wilcox tried to cover the puck for the tap in. The goal was reviewed for a several minutes, but stood. Max Gaede was given a second assist on the play.
Nate Schmidt drew a holding penalty on a partial breakaway and proceeded to score on the ensuing penalty on a blast from 50 feet out at 15:07. Schmidt went around a defenseman who went down to block the shot, finding a clear lane and fired a bullet.
“I don’t think the goalie saw it,” said Schmidt. “I think it went in before the goalie even knew. Zach [Budish] did such a fantastic job getting his big butt in front of the net.”
A scrum broke out at 16:50 after a quality scoring chance from just outside the goal crease by Chase Grant. Both teams received three minor roughing penalties on the play.
Minnesota State started the scoring at 4:50 of the first period with a power-play goal by Zach Palmquist.
The play set up at the top of the left circle. Matt Leitner fed the puck down low to Jean-Paul LaFontaine, who found Palmquist cheating in on the back door for the tap in.
Travis Boyd even the score at one on a wrist shot through traffic at 10:31 while on the power play. Mike Reilly and Seth Ambroz were credited with assists.
“Tonight was a step on the compete end, but at the end of the day, it’s about wins and losses,” Hastings said. “We have to find a way to get that first WCHA win.”
The same two teams play Saturday night in Mankato, Minn.