The #1 ranked Gopher Hockey team swept Bemidji State this weekend at Mariucci Arena by scores of 5-2 Friday night and 5-3 on Saturday. The Gophers now have the longest home winning streak in the nation after the weekend.
After watching Goldy drop the teams 2013-14 Big Ten Championship banner from the Mariucci Arena rafters, the Gophers got off to a fast start Friday, peppering Bemidji State goalie Michael Blitzer with several early shots on goal. The Gophers scored their first goal of the night at the 8:41 mark of the first when Justin Kloos made a pass from the sideboards in the Bemidji zone to Sam Warning near the blue line. Warning took what appeared to be a shot at first but was a perfect stick to stick pass to Taylor Cammarata who deked Blitzer and put the puck behind him. The first period would end with Minnesota up 1-0.
The Gophers wasted no time early in the second period as Kyle Rau put the Gophers up 2-0 just 35 seconds into the period. Rau took a drop pass from Leon Bristedt and then skated around one sliding Beaver player before evading another one and skating to the far side of the net to put the puck past Blitzer. The Beavers would not go away quickly as Mitch Cain put a shot past Wilcox less than a minute later to cut the Gopher lead to 2-1. The Gophers answered back with their special teams, and Travis Boyd would notch both goals. With Mike Reilly in the box for interference, Boyd would tap in a shorthanded shot from Brady Skeji before several players ended up in the Beaver net. The goal was originally waived off, but upon review the call was reversed. Four minutes later after the Gophers had successfully killed off approximately a minute of a 5x3 power play for the Beavers, Boyd struck again, this time on the Gopher power play. Rau took a pass from Cammarata to the left of Blitzer and passed blindly behind his back right to Boyd who ripped the puck into the upper gloveside corner of the net. Adam Wilcox would earn his stripes late in the second period as he made a remarkable save. Wilcox made the initial save, and the rebound bounced out to a Beaver player who had the entire open net to shoot at. He shot, and Wilcox stuck out the paddle of his stick and knocked the shot down and smothered the puck. The Gophers would end the second period with a 4-1 lead.
The Gophers would add one more in the third period when Hudson Fasching scored on the power play once again. Mike Reilly would get the puck near the blue line and put a wrist shot toward the front of the net. Fasching tipped the shot past Blitzer to give Minnesota a 5-1 lead. Cory Ward would add one last powerplay goal for the Beavers, but the Game would end with the Gophers winning 5-2. The highlights from Friday night's game are below:
Saturday the Gophers got off to a bit of a slower start. The Gophers got two quick shots on goal, but the beavers would come down, and score on their first shot of the game. Markus Gerbrandt took a pass off the end boards that bounced to his perfectly at the goal mouth where he put it past Wilcox. It would take a 5x3 Gopher powerplay for Minnesota to respond, but they did with two goals in quick succession. Connor Reilly would get the Gophers on the board first when he took a pass from Travis Boyd and ripped a one-time slap shot past Beaver goalie Andrew Walsh to tie the game at one. Two and a half minutes later, Rau would score his second goal of the weekend as he took a pass from Mike Reilly and put a wicked wrist shot past Walsh. The Gophers would take a 2-1 lead into the break.
Bemidji State came alive in the second period and outshot the Gophers 11-3. They controlled most of the play, and got on the scoreboard first when Matt Prapavessis put a shot past Wilcox to tie that game at 2. Bemidji would take the lead less than two minutes later when Ben Marshall lost the puck in front of the Gopher net and Gerbrandt easily put the puck past Wilcox. The Gophers would tie the Game at three when Justin Kloos took a Mike Reilly pass in the left face-off circle and ripped a shot past Walsh. The game would go to the third knotted at three. Mike Reilly would also be honored during the second period as a First-Team All-American last season. Reilly becomes the latest Gopher to get his likeness on one of the murals above the main enterance to Mariucci Arena.
The Gophers would take the lead for good at the 7:05 mark of the third period when Boyd scored his third goal of the weekend and second power play goal. Rau made a great pass across the goal mouth to find Boyd who had the wide open net to shoot at. Bemidji would pull their goalie with about 1:30 left in the game, and Skeji would put the game on ice with a beautiful play. He battled along the sideboards with a Beaver defender, but out-muscled him and got a shoot off from just beyond the red line that went in to finish off the Beavers 5-3. The battle hymn rang out in Mariucci for the first time this season as the Gophers moved to 4-0 on the season. Saturday night's highlights are below:
The Gophers will remain the #1 team in the nation as their string of playing in-state former WCHA opponents continues next weekend. The Gophers will play a home and home series with St. Cloud State who the Gophers defeated in the NCAA West Regional Final last March enroute to the National Championship Game. The Huskies will not be an easy opponent as they split a series at home this past weekend with #2 Union, being the first team to defeat the Dutchmen since last January. The Gophers will make the Halloween night trek up to St. Cloud to play the Huskies at 7:30 Friday night, and then the teams will return back to Mariucci for the Saturday afternoon tilt which will face-off at 4:00.