MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota scored two power-play goals on a late five minute major and Ben Marshall scored the game-winning goal with under a minute to play as No. 1 Minnesota survived a spirited rally by Alaska-Anchorage.
“I give our guys credit; our power play was given an opportunity at the end of the game and each unit scored a huge goal to win the game,” said Minnesota coach Don Lucia.
Despite holding a 2-1 lead entering the third period, Minnesota found itself trailing by a goal with less than five minutes to play.
At 15:52, Tyler Currier received a major penalty for checking from behind on a hit on Nick Budish. The hit was clearly a penalty, but some questioned whether it warranted a five minute major.
“Was it a penalty? Yes, in today’s day and age, but I do not think it was a five; I really don’t,” said Alaska-Anchorage coach Dave Shyiak. “There is checking in the game. It was tough for him to hold up. I will take the two minute penalty, but I don’t think it was five.”
Less than a minute later, Nick Bjugstad netted his second of the game on a one-timer from the left circle on a feed from top of the diamond by Nate Schmidt to tie the game.
The game-winner by Marshall came on a mirrored play from the right circle, with the first assist coming from Mike Reilly.
“We said on the bench both units get a goal and we go home,” said Lucia.
“I thought we played that game the best we could,” said Shyiak. “I thought that game was winnable. At the end of the day, penalties killed us. Not just the one at the end of the game.”
The Seawolves started their rally midway through the third period when Daniel Naslund scored at 10:37 on a one-timer from 20 feed out.
Scott Allen gave the Seawolves the lead at 14:13 on a booming shot that beat Adam Wilcox high from 40 feet out.
Momentum swung early in second period to Minnesota.
At 2:10, Kyle Rau tied the game at one on a tip while on a power play. Nate Schmidt fed a pass form the top of the diamond to Sam Warning. Warning one-timed the shot from the left circle, and Rau tipped the puck past Rob Gunderson.
Bjugstad gave the Gophers the lead, scoring on an odd-man rush. Christian Isackson picked the pocket of a defenseman near the blue line and fed Bjugstad with a backhand pass. Bjugstad fired a shot from the top of the left circle, beating Gunderson over the glove.
The Gophers continued to control the rest of the second period, outshooting the Seawolves 10 to 3.
The Seawolves started fast notching the first seven shots of the game in the opening six minutes of the first period. The surge was capped off by a stuff-in goal on a rebound of a wraparound attempt by Quinn Sproule at 5:17.
“They came out and had a really good first 10 minutes of the game,” said Lucia. “We got outshot 7-0. We started to get a little bit of rhythm after that.”
The teams face off Saturday night at 7 p.m. at Mariucci Arena.