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Gophers Hockey: Minnesota sweeps Bemidji State with 5-3 win

The Beavers twice had a lead on Minnesota, but were unable to close the game.

Mike Reilly (5)
Mike Reilly (5)
Minnesota Athletics

MINNEAPOLIS- Mike Reilly helped out the top-ranked Gophers on his own night in front of 25+ family and friendsat Mariucci Arena, however, it was Justin Kloos and Travis Boyd on special teams who once again became pests to the Bemidji State Beavers in a 5-3 come from behind win Saturday.

The junior defenseman had two assists, including the pass to Kloos for the tying goal. Boyd (Washington Capitals draft pick) scored his third goal of the weekend to put Minnesota (4-0-0, 0-0-0-0 Big Ten) ahead of the Beavers for good 7:05 into the third period.

Adam Wilcox (Tampa Bay Lightning) made 19 saves for his fourth victory of the season.

"We're clicking right now on the power play and that's good to see," Boyd said after a weekend where the Gophers scored 5 power play goals en route to a sweep. "So much of the game depends on your special teams. Our PK was good too. We talked about winning the special teams battle every game every weekend and that's a big reason why we had two wins this weekend."

Bemidji State (1-3-0, 0-0-0 WCHA) made things difficult on both ends of the ice throughout Saturday's game. The Beavers got off to a 1-0 lead 2:16 into the game when Markus Gerbrandt took advantage of a wide shot that went off the boards and straight to him for his first of two goals Saturday.

It was the first time Minnesota trailed all season.

The Gophers responded well, out-shooting the Beavers 15-6 and scoring a pair of goals to a take a 2-1 lead into the first intermission. Connor Reilly got his second of the year with 14 seconds remaining on a 5x3 power play. Kyle Rau (Florida Panthers), meanwhile, beat BSU goalie Andrew Walsh for his 50th career collegiate goal.

Mike, who assisted on Rau's goal, quietly sat on the bench as he was honored for his 2013-14 First Team All-American during a stoppage in the second period. The montage included the song "Be Like Mike."

"When that came I obviously knew that was coming," he said. "It's pretty special to see. There are so many great teammates on this team.

"It was cool to see and I'm glad to be a part of this program."

For most of the period it was the only thing of note on the Minnesota bench. Tom Serratore's team was clogging lanes and blocking shots while the only two on net were saved by Walsh, who had 25 Saturday. Even more, the Beavers were able to take a 3-2 lead with two goals in a 1:55 span. Senior defenseman Matt Prapavessis scored his first of the year seconds after a Bemidji State power play expired. Gerbrandt picked off a Ben Marshall (Detroit Red Wings) pass and got Wilcox moving for his second of the night with 7:15 left in the second.

Bemidji's lead lasted all of all four minutes. That's when Reilly jumped off the bench on a D change and found Kloos open on the far side of the net for a one-timer to tie the game.

"No one is more deserving than Mike," said Kloos, who has 8 points (2G-6A) in 4 games against Bemidji State. "A spectacular year last year and he's starting off right this year."

Although Bemidji continued to make it difficult for Minnesota at even strength, the Gophers were able to create space on the big Mariucci Arena during power plays. That was the difference for Boyd in a play that was similar to his power play goal the night before, with Rau passing next to the goal through the crease and to an open man.

"Rau basically made the play happen. He fed it through the D's leg," the senior forward said.

Brady Skjei (New York Rangers) added an empty netter for his first of the season.

Despite trailing twice and struggling at times against an improved Bemidji squad, Gopher head coach Don Lucia was not despaired about his team's performance in its first weekend playing back to back games.

"Even though we fell behind I thought we got off to a really good start, but it's the first time we've given up the first goal in a game," he said. "It's the first time we've been behind, in the second period we fell behind 3-2, but we found a way to rally back and tie it going into the third."

Bemidji State will host 5-1 Alaska next weekend. Minnesota next plays St. Cloud State in a home-and-home series. The Huskies, coming off a win at national champion Union, host October 31. Then it's the Gophers' turn the next night. Fox Sports North will broadcast both games.

As for Reilly, he'll be a part of Mariucci Arena for the forseeable future. Every All-American gets a place on one of the murals which adorns the building and the 21 year-old, who had chills seeing it the first time, is no different.

"It's a tremendous honor to be  First Team All-American and be on the mural. I'm sure 20 years from now when he's back in Mariucci Arena it'll mean even more when he's with his own family," Lucia said. "Obviously Mike is a go-to player. He's improved tremendously every year he's been here."


Nathan Wells is a college hockey columnist for SB Nation. You can also follow him on Twitter --