#1 Minnesota Duluth held on for a 3-2 victory on Friday night to send hometown Minnesota to the consolation game of the North Star College Cup for the third time in as many years.
Minnesota struck first with a power play goal by Brent Gates Jr. at 5:05, but the Bulldogs answered back with a pretty shot by freshman Riley Tufte that tied the game with 1:09 remaining in the first period.
Alex Iafallo would put Minnesota Duluth in front when he scored on an extended 5-on-3 power play in a second period dominated by the Bulldogs.
Taking a 2-1 lead into the third period, the Bulldogs retreated into a defensive shell, attempting just two shots in the final frame, but were able to convert on one of them, when a transition opportunity led to an Avery Peterson breakaway that gave the Bulldogs a 3-1 lead.
Brent Gates Jr. would score his second of the game with under 40 seconds remaining, but that was as close as the Gophers could draw.
Minnesota will face Bemidji State in tomorrow’s consolation game, followed by Minnesota Duluth meeting St. Cloud State in an all-NCHC title game.
Notes and Thoughts
-What a night for Riley Tufte. He picked up another goal an assist, bringing him to eight points in his last seven games, after going scoreless in his first 14. The goal was a beauty, and he made a nice play on the assist to get the puck up to Avery Peterson. But he was effective and creating chances all night.
-I really believe Minnesota Duluth is the most complete team in the country, and they showed that tonight. They just dominated the second half of the second period, barely ever leaving the Minnesota zone. They also showed they could lock things down defensively in the third period if necessary too. They gave up a ton of shot attempts in the third period as Minnesota pressed, but limited the number of high quality chances, and Hunter Miska was really good in goal when he needed to be.
5:05 Brent Gates Jr from Vinni Lettieri and Steve Johnson (power play) 1-0 Minnesota
Lettieri circled around the UMD net and made a nice pass to Gates who had moved into the slot and one-timed the pass past Miska
18:51 Riley Tufte unassisted 1-1 tie
Tufte picked up the puck at the top of the right circle and skated into the high slot, where he fired a high wrist shot over the glove of Schierhorn.
6:48 Alex Iafallo from Joey Anderson and Neal Pionk (5-on-3 power play) 2-1 Minnesota Duluth
Anderson fed a cross-crease to Iafallo on the right side. Iafallo bobbled the pass a bit, but was able to get it on net and past a sprawling Eric Schierhorn in goal.
8:34 Avery Peterson from Riley Tufte 3-1 Minnesota Duluth
Tufte made a backhand pass at his own blue line that sprung Peterson on a breakaway. Peterson fired a shot low to the stick side that beat Schierhorn for the goal.
19:21 Brent Gates Jr from Leon Bristedt and Jake Bischoff (power play, extra attacker) 3-2 Minnesota Duluth
With multiple people jamming at a loose puck in front of the net, Gates was able to get his stick on it and put it past Miska for the goal.