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Gophers Hockey: Minnesota defeats Minnesota State 4-1 to split series

Justin Holl scored his first goal in 42 games while Nate Schmidt and Zach Budish scored power play goals for the Gophers as the defeated Minnesota State 3-1 to gain a split in their home-and-home series. Minnesota has next week off before returning to action against WCHA-leading St. Cloud State.

Justin Holl scored his first goal in 42 games
Justin Holl scored his first goal in 42 games
Minnesota Athletics

Minnesota (18-4-4, 10-4-4 WCHA) was the beneficiary of three goal reviews Saturday, but it was a different pair that sealed victory for the Gophers in Mankato.

Nate Schmidt and Zach Budish (Nashville Predators) each scored a power play goal while Justin Holl (Chicago Blackhawks) scored his first goal in 42 games as Minnesota defeated Minnesota State 4-1. Adam Wilcox made 26 saves for the Gophers, who ended up splitting their two-game home-and-home series with each team winning on the road.

Zach Lehrke scored the lone goal for the Mavericks in defeat.

Following an admittedly sluggish start Friday, Minnesota came out firing on all cylinders. The team out-shot Minnesota State (10-9-1, 16-9-3 WCHA) 13-8 in the first 20 minutes, controlled puck possession and scored a pair of goals. Their first occurred 12:34 into the game. Mavericks goalie Stephon Williams initially saved Holl's breakaway shot before taking the net off its pegs at the same time the puck went off of Holl and over the red line.

The refs called it a no-goal on the ice but after reviewing the play reversed their decision.

Six minutes later Budish found Nate Schmidt at the top of the circle and the junior defenseman scored his sixth goal (and second in as many nights) on the power play. His goal was also reviewed and quickly upheld to give the Gophers a 2-0 lead.

Defense took over in a scoreless second period as both blue lines kept the other team's offense at bay. Neither goalie had to overexert themselves besides the last four minutes where the Mavericks had a power play and continued to play in the Minnesota zone.

Budish extended the lead to 3-0 on Minnesota's third power play of the night. The redshirt junior was fed at the top of the slot by Erik Haula (Minnesota Wild) and sniped the puck past Williams, who made 26 saves, for a 3-0 lead with 10:15 remaining.

Minnesota State, who came back from a 1-0 deficit Friday, attempted to do the same. Lehrke got the Mavericks on the board after he tapped in a Bryce Gervais rebound with 7:01 left while Johnny McInnis appeared to have gotten the puck past Adam Wilcox (Tampa Bay Lightning) for his 12th goal 27 seconds later. However, the referees deemed that the puck went off McInnis' glove and overturned the goal call; leaving Minnesota State with a 3-1 deficit.

While the no call stopped their momentum and gave Wilcox a chance to recover, Mike Hastings' team went all-in with 3:40 left when he pulled Williams from the net. The Mavericks lost the ensuing face-off and Haula added an empty-netter to put the game out of reach at 4-1.

The Pori, Finland native had two points Saturday to raise his team-leading total to 31 points and his seven points in 8 games against Minnesota State lead all Gophers.

The end result for Minnesota was a successful Saturday with the man advantage to gain a split before their final bye week. They entered Saturday's game on a 1-10 power play slump so going 2-3 with the man advantage was a boost on its own. Doing so against a Minnesota State team that had only given up 4 power play goals in the 19 games since first playing Minnesota was even more impressive.


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