MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota-Duluth rallied to tie No. 2 Minnesota at Mariucci Arena Saturday night, but fell just short of the upset.
Even in a tie game, the overtime period was exciting.
The Gophers started the extra stanza strong. Minnesota was swarming the net until a bad line change resulted in a too many men on the ice penalty.
The Bulldogs’ Justin Crandall was a bad bounce away from finishing it off, but failed to get a stick on a bouncing puck while staring at a wide-open net.
“A guy went out for the wrong guy [and] that shouldn’t happen,” said Minnesota coach Don Lucia. “Fortunately, we killed it off. We had some momentum going in overtime and that was disappointing.”
The Bulldogs tied the game at 12:54 of the third period on a crazy play. Adam Wilcox had made the initial save and the rebound fell to the side of the net. Wilcox played the puck into the corner right onto the stick of Keegan Flaherty, who one-timed it to Jake Hendrickson for the one-time tap-in goal.
“We battled back from deficits all weekend,” UMD coach Scott Sandelin said. “We certainly had our chances at the end there with the power play and got good goaltending. I like the way our team played.”
“I thought the teams competed really hard tonight from start to finish,” added Lucia. “Shot-blocking, playing the body or the goaltender making a good save at a critical time. It was a good game.”
The Bulldogs were set up very well going into the third with 1:46 left on a power play, but recently, Minnesota-Duluth has been outscored 15-1 in its last eight games in the third period – a stretch where they were 0-7-1. Duluth failed to score on the power play and shortly after it expired, took a penalty.
The Bulldogs killed the Gophers’ power play, but gave up a goal the next shift.
Travis Boyd beat a Bulldogs’ defender to a puck that wrapped around the goal on a dump in on the far weak side. Boyd got enough of the puck to send it back behind the net where Tom Serratore headed towards him all alone. Serratore caught McNeely cheating to the far side and did a quick spin move for the wrap-around goal.
Both goaltenders played much better Saturday night keeping most of their rebounds under control and each making some spectacular saves.
Austin Farley tied the game at one at 7:47 of the second period with a power-play goal off a rebound. Caleb Herbert took the initial shot. Wilcox made the initial save, but the rebound went at a low angle to the weak side where Farley buried the puck.
The first period was action-filled and both teams dominated for stretches.
Minnesota started strong before Duluth controlled play for the middle of the stanza. Momentum swung back to Minnesota with a too many men on the ice call.
The Gophers took advantage of the bench minor when Mike Reilly scored at 18:11 of the first. The second team power-play unit was putting intense pressure on the Bulldogs and in the chaos, Reilly picked up a puck, used a defender as a screen and went high over McNeely’s shoulder.
“I thought tonight they were going to come out a little bit harder,” Sandelin said. “We weathered through a couple of the storms and kinda got through the first 10 minutes. I thought we were getting momentum until we took that penalty for too many men, which you just can’t do, and they scored.”
“I thought both teams played well,” Lucia said. “The effort was there by everybody. Goaltenders were sharp on both sides. It was a hard-fought WCHA game.”