Here's my take on what went happened in tonight's Final Five play-in game.
-Duluth gets on the board early when Alex Kangas can't control a rebound on a weak shot, and MacGregor Sharp knocks in the rebound.
-Minnesota gets a 5x3 powerplay for about a minute. I thought this was one of the more important moments in the game. Minnesota insisted on working the puck down low and trying for the perfect cross-ice tap-in goal despite the fact that Duluth really collapsed their 3 PKers down low as well and kept everything clogged up. As a result, they got almost nothing out of a minute of two-man advantage. They would have been better off letting Schroeder try to sneak a couple pucks through from the point, or getting a deflection or rebound.
-Gophers get another powerplay to end the period and look absolutely brutal.
-Kent Patterson starts the second period in place of Alex Kangas, who had the flu, which makes me wonder why Kangas started in the first place. Don Lucia's insistence on sticking with Kangas this year, despite Kangas struggling and Patterson proving himself more than capable almost borders on bizarre.
-Duluth scored the game's second goal on a goal that had to be video reviewed. In real time, I thought there was no way it would be allowed, but after seeing the video, I think it was probably the right call. The Duluth player crashing the net reached Patterson before the puck crossed the goalline on the other side of the net, but I don't think he interfered with Patterson's ability to make the save, because Patterson wasn't stopping that puck regardless.
-Just when it looked like Minnesota was going to go away, Cade Fairchild took a shot from the point that pinballed off a couple Bulldogs and beat Stalock.
-Both teams had some nice chances to score, but Minnesota definitely carried the play. A few times, UMD missed opportunities to just get the puck out of their zone by trying to make tape-to-tape passes in their own end, and that almost cost them a few times. Nico Sacchetti had one of Minnesota's best chances, when he beat Stalock with a shot, though the puck went just wide of the net.
-Andrew Carroll took probably one of the best penalties ever. Minnesota came up the ice with one last chance with a few seconds remaining. They almost had a shot from the slot area with a few seconds left when Carroll hooked the Gopher player down. Time ran out before a penalty could be called on him though. Very heads up play.
-Stalock was absolutely sensational and by far the star of the game. He finished with 39 saves on 40 shots. I don't know how much gas UMD will have left in the tank for tomorrow and Saturday, but if Stalock plays like that all weekend, you've got to give them at least a fighting chance.
-As far as the Pairwise, this win moves Duluth up to 11th and Minnesota down to 14th, though that doesn't mean much since it will change on a game-by-game basis from here on out. There's still way too many combinations of things that could happen to say for sure what's going to happen with each team.
-Minnesota looks to be in very dangerous territory. I think they're basically rooting for no upsets the rest of the way in order to get into the tournament. I think this also guarantees that if they somehow sneak into tournament, some poor 1 seed would end up drawing them at Mariucci.
-UMD definitely needed this win, but I don't think they're out of the woods yet. They've still got two games to play now, which could potentially mean two more losses. If the higher seed wins every game this weekend, Duluth would just barely cling to the last at-large spot, so there's not a lot of margin for error.