SAINT PAUL- With the Foo Fighters' "Times Like These" blaring moments before the fourth meeting of the season between Minnesota and Minnesota Duluth, it was time for one struggling team to step up in the North Star College Cup consolation game.
On Saturday the moment was there for Bulldogs captain Adam Krause and the team's first line to erase an emotional, hard-fought third period charge by Minnesota.
Krause scored twice against the Gophers. His second, coming on Minnesota Duluth's first shot of the third period, gave the Bulldogs a 2-1 lead with 2:11 remaining in the game and UMD went on to win against Minnesota for the third time in four tries.
"Two struggling teams right now and we knew they were going to be desperate," said Krause, whose linemates Dominic Toninato and Alex Iafallo assisted on both goals. "I got a good bounce from Al and here we are. You lose sight of some of the things that make you successful ... we got back to the basics today of working hard."
The Gophers (11-9-2, 2-2-2 Big Ten) entered the North Star College Cup looking to change course during recent struggles where the team was able to get shots without goals or hold a lead. Instead, that continued throughout the all-Minnesota college hockey tournament in games against #1 Minnesota State and the #7 Bulldogs. New lines, a shorter bench and added certainty did nothing for Minnesota, which lost for the 8th time in 14 games.
"We're pissed off. We're angry," said senior defenseman Ben Marshall. "We finished fourth out of four teams so we're not happy, but the game's over, weekend's over. You gotta look forward to next weekend."
The loss drops the Gophers to 20th in the Pairwise Rankings that help determine the 16 team NCAA Tournament field with only a home series against Michigan left against teams ranked higher.
Once again Minnesota started slow, out-shot by Minnesota-Duluth (14-9-1 8-5-1-0 NCHC) 6-1 shot advantage in the first ten minutes of the game and not testing junior goalie Matt McNeely, who made 31 saves in his first start since October 17th.
Krause made it 1-0 Bulldogs 14:04 into the game when Minnesota Duluth's captain hovered in front of net, whacking a third attempt Minnesota goaltender Adam Wilcox could not cover into the back.
"Krausey, it's nice to see. It was a hard working goal the first one, getting into the paint," said UMD head coach Scott Sandelin. "Those guys have to lead. It's something when you're struggling your best players, your top players have to be your best players. And I thought tonight we had a lot of guys that played well. I thought we had some good shifts from the fourth line and it's nice to see Matt get the win."
A scoreless second period nearly lulled the afternoon to sleep before the Bulldogs controlled the final seven minutes. Wilcox had to stand tall to make a save on Jared Thomas in order to keep Saturday afternoon's game a one goal contest. UMD had a few more chances before the end of the period.
Hits by Bulldogs defensemen Andy Welinski and Carson Soucy served as the catalyst for change in the third. Travis Boyd lost his helmet in the final seconds of the second among the chippiness all four Minnesota-based teams have shown this weekend.
Getting it back the Gophers a power play. The team also received the passion and emotion missing for much of the first 40 minutes.
Kyle Rau tied the game at one 31 seconds into the third period. On the power play, the Gopher captain went straight to the front of the net where Justin Kloos fed him for Rau's 8th goal of the season.
Minnesota controlled the third, coming out with a 10-0 shot advantage in the first 13 minutes. Several chances came close to taking the lead with Brady Skjei and Hudson Fasching coming the closest before Krause's game winner.
The games against the Bulldogs throughout the year have been a measuring stick of how Minnesota's season has gone. The Gophers defeated UMD 4-3 to open the year en route to a 7-1-0 start and the number spot in the rankings. The sweep by the Bulldogs turned the tide.
Nathan Wells is a college hockey columnist for SB Nation. You can also follow him on Twitter -- Follow @gopherstate