Three years, eight meetings and another Ice Breaker Tournament later, the Gophers looked like they were finally ready to stop their lengthy losing streak against the Bulldogs.
But No. 3 Minnesota was unable to hold on to a pair of third-period leads, and No. 6 Minnesota-Duluth was able to get the better of their rival once again as Parker Mackay’s overtime goal gave them a 4-3 win Friday night.
Coming in, the Golden Gophers had lost seven straight games to the Bulldogs, which included two meetings in Duluth. Their last win over their longtime in-state rival? The 2014 Ice Breaker Tournament at Notre Dame, a 4-3 Minnesota win over UMD in the opening game. The Gophers went on to win the tournament.
Early on, it looked like the streak would continue rather convincingly, as the Bulldogs outshot the Gophers 10-1 in the opening ten minutes. Head coach Don Lucia wasn’t happy about that.
“Obviously, not the start we wanted in the game,” he said.
And it surprised him, because he believed his team was prepared coming in.
“I thought we had a good week of practice,” he said. “[But] we can’t give up four goals and win games.”
Duluth pounded Minnesota goaltender Eric Schierhorn with shots all game long, and he finished with 40 saves to help keep the Gophers in the game.
“Eric played really well,” Lucia said. “He looks like he really made progress from a year.”
Schierhorn agreed that he played well, but didn’t think he was on the top of his game.
“I was happy with the way I played, but you can’t let in four goals. That’s just kinda the bottom line,” Schierhorn said.
As for Minnesota-Duluth, despite much of their scoring and great goaltender Hunter Miska gone from last season, they came out looking to prove they are national title contenders once again, and rallying from a pair of one-goal deficits in beating the Gophers for the 8th straight time to start a season certainly gives them a big boost.
“I liked our effort; I liked our game,” said Bulldogs coach Scott Sandelin. “I thought our guys fought through some things and showed a lot of character battling back.”
The game started out with an energetic flow as both the Gophers and Bulldogs hustled from end-to-end. But Minnesota had trouble setting up against a young Bulldogs defense, and Minnesota-Duluth had more chances offensively, eventually leading to a two-man advantage which ended with a goal by Mikey Anderson.
The second period was almost as woeful on offense for the first 13 minutes for the Gophers, but they finally tied the game when Tommy Novak knocked in a centering feed from Tyler Sheehy. The play was set up after two UMD players collided in their own zone, allowing Sheehy to come in up the right side and find Novak in front of the net. Minnesota then took the lead on their fourth power play as Casey Mittlestadt found Scott Reedy alone on the doorstep. His first college goal near the end of the period put the Gophers up 2-1 and silenced the once-deafening AMSOIL Arena crowd.
The lead was short-lived, however, as Riley Tufte put away a rebound of a Scott Perunovich shot just 23 seconds into the third to tie it for UMD. The Gophers re-claimed the lead when Jack Ramsey one-timed a shot top-shelf behind Shepard at 3:09. Once again, however, the Bulldogs replied quickly when Joey Anderson backhanded a nifty shot behind Schierhorn 40 seconds later to knot the game at 3, which eventually went to overtime after the Gophers couldn’t capitalize on late pressure.
Mackay finally put the finishing touches of UMD’s 8th consecutive win in the series when he snuck a puck behind Schierhorn 1:45 into the session.
“[Avery Peterson] kinda got tripped up, puck was laying there,” Mackay said. “I was fortunate to be behind him.”
The Gophers will have to have a short memory if they want to beat Union on Saturday, and it’s going to come down to how they start in comparison to Friday.
“We got a shorter turnaround. We gotta make sure we come out with energy when the game starts,” Lucia said.
As for the Bulldogs, they have a chance to win the Ice Breaker Tournament on Saturday night in front of their home fans against an old WCHA rival in Michigan Tech.
UMD PP goal at 7:56. Mikey Anderson (1). Assists to Nick Swaney (1) and Jared Thomas (1).
MINN goal at 13:26: Tommy Novak (1). Assist to Tyler Sheehy (1).
MINN PP goal at 18:16: Scott Reedy (1). Assists to Casey Mittlestadt (1) and Rem Pitlick (1).
UMD PP goal at :23: Riley Tufte (1). Assists to Perunovich (1) and Jarod Hilderman (1).
MINN goal at 3:09: Ramsey (1). Assists to Ryan Norman (1) and Darian Romanko (1).
UMD goal at 3:49: Anderson (1). Assist to Peter Krieger (1).
UMD goal at 1:45: Mackay (1). Assist to Avery Peterson (1).
Power plays: MINN 1-6, UMD 2-6.
Shots on goal: MINN 21, UMD 44.