MINNEAPOLIS — Going into the third, you would think the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs had all the momentum against Minnesota. They knotted up the game with 44 seconds left in the second on Austin Farley’s second goal of the game.
“We played well enough to win a game; tomorrow night, we have to come to play a 60-minute game, ” said Minnesota-Duluth coach Scott Sandelin.
The third period, however, was all Minnesota.
“We got better as the game went on,” said Minnesota coach Don Lucia. “We made a couple nice plays on the power play. When the power play was going well, that is when we were winning games. We have been in a little bit of dry spell. And that can happen on power plays. They made a couple nice plays to tie it up going into the third. Give our guys credit to find a way to win the third period and win the game.”
“We were not happy obviously,” said Erik Haula. “We were not playing well. We knew we had to come up hard in the third so we could get the two points.”
The game-winner was scored by Kyle Rau at 13:25 off a faceoff, which was the result of a great defensive sequence by Minnesota-Duluth that ended with an icing of the puck Dan De Lisle on his knees while in the crease.
“Well, I told him that when he got his hair cut, it was less wind resistance and he would be better,” joked Lucia of Rau getting back in the scoring column.
Minnesota won the ensuing faceoff, and Nick Bjugstad took a shot that was blocked by a defenseman. The puck went right to Rau, and he fired it past Matt McNeely.
Haula added an empty-netter with six seconds left to close the books on a dominant period by the home team. It was the fourth goal scored by Haula’s new line with Nate Condon and Sam Warning.
“Haula’s line was obviously the key tonight,” said Lucia. “They scored four of the five goals tonight. I thought our top end guys made plays when they had to finish.”
The Bulldogs only mustered four shots in the third period after firing 25 in the first two.
The game opened up in the second. The Bulldogs hit three pipes and scored three goals, while the Gophers scored two goals, including a short-handed one on the same power that the Bulldogs tallied.
Erick Haula got the first goal of the stanza at 7:50 on a short-handed two-on-one rush with Zack Budish. Budish snuck out of the zone and got an outlet pass from Haula, then went wide, drawing the defender, and fed a pass to Haula which he one-timed into the low nearside corner, putting the Gophers up 2-0.
Justin Crandall answered 37 seconds later on the same power play on a shot that trickled past Adam Wilcox.
The Bulldogs tied the game when Farley popped a rebound over the right shoulder of Adam Wilcox on a puck shot by Joe Basaraba at 13:10.
“The puck seems to find him,” said Sandelin of Farley. “He has got a little rat in him. He has done well. He has had a good year for a freshman. He is still a young kid. He is right out of high school.”
Minnesota went ahead 3-2 just 1:42 later on a great goal by Sam Warning. Warning toe-dragged the puck off the side wall, splitting two defenders and creating a mini breakaway on McNeely. Warning then reversed to his backhand, beating McNeely on the far side for a highlight-reel goal.
The two teams face off for the last time in the regular season as WCHA foes Saturday night at 7:05 at Mariucci.