Bruce Bennett

Minnesota and NTDP U18s Play to 2-2 Draw

Minnesota and the NTDP U18s finished tied at 2 in their Friday night exhibition game.

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Demko Shines as NTDP Steals Tie

The NTDP U18 team pulled out a 2-2 tie against one of the best college teams in the country in Minnesota, thanks in large part to an outstanding 39-save performance from their goalie Thatcher Demko.

After the game, NTDP head coach Don Granato was quick to praise his goalie, saying the key to the game was the first 8-10 minutes of the game when Minnesota controlled the play and Demko made what Granato described as some "miraculous" saves.

The attribute Granato praised most in his goalie was his competitiveness, and Demko certainly had that on full display this evening. The biggest moment in the game came with 38 seconds left in the period with Minnesota on the power play. Demko reached out to try and cover a loose puck when Minnesota's Nate Condon fell on his shoulder while also scrambling for the loose puck, popping the shoulder out of place.

The NTDP trainer would eventually pop Demko's shoulder into place during the intermission, but not before Minnesota generated two quality scoring chances that Demko stopped, keeping the Gophers at two, and eventually helping secure the tie. Demko said the shoulder was still sore and would require treatment this evening. Teammate Hunter Miska was expected to start tomorrow's game against St. Thomas heading into the weekend.

Demko is the second youngest player on the NTDP as a December '95 birthdate, meaning he isn't eligible for the NHL Draft until 2014, and that he is only a high school junior this year. He said he plans to return to the Omaha Lancers of the USHL for his senior year of high school, where he played last season as a 16-year-old.

As far as colleges, Demko is still leaving his options open, and if he continues playing like he has recently for the NTDP, those options will only increase. The schools he listed as talking with include: Cornell, Western Michigan, Northeastern, UMass, and Denver.

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Third Period Notes

Third Period Scoring

No scoring in the third period. Shot totals after three periods were 36-25 Minnesota

Nick Bjugstad had the best chance of the period when he stripped the puck from an NTDP blueliner while shorthanded and came in alone on Thatcher Demko. Bjugstad made a nice deke and went to his left, but Demko used his big frame to get his pad down and make the save. Tyler Motte also had a breakaway early in the period, but failed to beat Shibrowski five hole.

The NTDP had a couple chances on the power play, including a Nic Kerdiles shot from the slot that bounces off a couple bodies before making its way to Shibrowski.

Minnesota's defense looks like it's going to continue to live on the razor's edge all season. With three minutes left in a tie game, they had four skaters down below the top of the circles in the attacking zone, and lost the puck, leading to what was almost an odd-man rush for the NTDP in the other direction. There's a fine line between being dangerous and reckless.

Casey Parenteau left midway through the period with a right leg injury and never returned to the bench. He was putting no weight on that leg as he left the ice.

Overtime

No scoring

Clint Lewis had a lane to shot from at the point, and got a nice tip in front that Shibrowski stopped.

Minnesota almost scored on a puck off the back boards that kicked in front of the goal, but Demko was able to recover and smother the puck.

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Second Period Notes

Scoring:

11:58: Tom Serratore from Christian Horn(power play) 2-1 NTDP

The NTDP had killed off 1:23 of a 5-on-3 kill, and all but :48 seconds of a five-minute major penalty to Mike McCarron before Serratore got a shot from the point to go through a screen and past Demko.

17:38: Nick Bjugstad from Justin Holl and Nate Condon, 2-2 tie

Minnesota had been pressing for a while, and finally, Bjugstad's strength down low was just too much to handle as he jammed a puck past Demko.

Shot totals after two periods: 30-14 Minnesota leads

I thought Minnesota would respond better after giving up two late goals in the first period, but the NTDP started off pretty strong in the second period. The turning point was Mike McCarron taking a really dumb checking-from-behind penalty while his team was already down a man. Minnesota only scored one goal late on that power play, but it titled the ice back heavily in the Gophers favor, and they controlled the back half of the period.

Thatcher Demko was absolutely outstanding in that period, making 18 saves, including at least five really good ones during the penalty kill.

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First Period Notes

Scoring:

16:47: Vinni Lettieri from Connor Hurley and Anthony Louis. 1-0 NTDP

Louis dug a puck off the boards at the blueline, setting Hurley up with a 2-on-1. Hurley made a great pass to Lettieri who buried an easy goal.

17:25: Tyler Motte(unassisted) 2-0 NTDP

Minnesota made a terrible turnover at their own blueline. Motte came in all alone and beat Shibrowski high to the glove side.

Shots: 10-9 Minnesota

Notes:

Minnesota came out and dominated the first nine or so minutes of the game. Thatcher Demko made a couple great saves, including two back-to-back about five minutes into the game, and allowed his team to settle in.

The line of Vinni Lettieri-Connor Hurley-Anthony Louis has been the most effective so far for the under-18s. Louis rang the post on a nice pass from Lettieri earlier in the period at a time when the rest of the NTDP team wasn't really generating much.

Nic Kerdiles had a quiet first period, which is understandable since he's playing in his first game. His best shift was his last one, when he knocked down a tough pass off the boards with his glove and led a nice rush up the ice that ended up stalling because of a bad pass,

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