Gophers Top Huskies 4-2

St. Cloud (Minn.) – No. 1 Minnesota made the drive to St. Cloud on Friday night to take on the No. 8 Huskies. After a back-and-fourth affair for two periods, the Gophers scored two four-on-four goals just :58 seconds apart in the third to sail to a 4-2 victory at the National Hockey Center.

With both teams vying for position in the WCHA standings, tensions were high to begin the game. The Gophers looked to strike pay dirt with two early goals by Zach Budish but both were waved off; one because goalie Ryan Faragher's helmet came off and the other for goalie interference.

"It was a little frustrating," said Nate Schmidt. "It's a little disheartening at first but you just got to rally the troops up and go out for another shift because [the Huskies] weren't waiting around for us. They were ready to roll. They had a lot of momentum and the crowd was back in the game."

Although the two disallowed goals were discouraging, the Gophers didn't quit.

"You don't see that too often, especially two in one period," said Don Lucia. "Give our guys credit, they continued to play."

The Gophers rallied from the disappointment and found a way to get on the board as Nick Bjugstad hammered a goal past Faragher on a Kyle Rau rebound to give Minnesota a much-needed 1-0 lead on the road. The talented Husky squad fought back, netting a goal at 14:48 of the first by freshman Joey Benik. The rivals headed to the locker room tied at one goal apiece.

Minnesota came out strong in the second, getting the better of the play early. With the Huskies playing aggressive defense on the blueline, Erik Haula and Zach Budish found themselves on the break, with Haula firing a quick wrist shot into the back of the net to give the Gophers a 2-1 lead.

Despite outshooting the Huskies 16-5 in the second, SCSU rallied in the third and was able tie the game once again on a beautiful powerplay goal by Drew LeBlanc to tie the game at 2-2.

"We just wanted to stick with it," said Erik Haula about St. Cloud tying the game in the third period. "We got two goals disallowed, happening on the road, it's obviously not what you want but I think our team did a great job after that tying goal to fight back."

Under six minutes later, Seth Ambroz and Taylor Johnson each took roughing minors, making the play four-on-four, something the Gophers have had trouble with this season.

"With the weak off, we spent some time on the four-on-four play," said Lucia. "We should be a better four-on-four team than we've been."

The practice paid off as the Gophers retook the lead off a pretty pass from Schmidt to Haula who scored his second of the evening on a nifty deke past Faragher.

"[Haula] made a great play on the goal," said Schmidt. "Erik showed everybody how good his hands really are. He gets the credit on the goal because that was an unbelievable deke."

With Ambroz and Johnson still in the box, the Gophers extended their lead under a minute later on a Schmidt slapshot from the slot.

"I wanted to pass it to Bjugstad but the [defender] just kind of sat on top of him so I said, ‘Got to tee ‘er up now,'" said Schmidt of his goal.

With a two-goal lead and 10 minutes to play, Adam Wilcox was able to make a number of important saves, including a breakaway with just over three minutes left, to preserve the lead for the Gophers.

"[Adam's] tremendous," said Schmidt. "He's been the backbone to our team all season. He's been playing extremely well."

Following the 4-2 victory on the road, the Gophers know that they will face an even tougher test on Saturday as the Huskies look to avoid the sweep.

"We got another game tomorrow," said Schmidt. "It's going to be a war tomorrow night. Lots of things on the line tomorrow night. It's going to be fun."


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