Gophers Settle for Split With SCSU

Drew LeBlanc

SAINT CLOUD, Minn. – The No. 1 Minnesota men's hockey team ran out of time on Saturday against No. 8/10 St. Cloud State, nearly erasing a three-goal deficit in the third period before falling to the home team 4-3.

Erik Haula paced Minnesota (19-5-4 overall, 10-5-4 Western Collegiate Hockey Association) with a pair of assists – ending the night with a team-high 22 assists and 35 points for the season. Juniors Nate Schmidt, Nick Bjugstad and Nate Condon contributed goals for the Gophers.

After a scoreless first, the Huskies (18-11-1, 15-6-1) opened the game up with two goals in the second before Schmidt tallied a key 5-on-3 power play goal with 51 seconds left in the second to send Minnesota into the second intermission down by just a goal. Schmidt, who leads all NCAA defensemen in points this season and has tallied a goal in four-straight games, was set up by Haula and redshirt junior Zach Budish.

Schmidt's goal couldn't extinguish St. Cloud State's offense, however, as the Huskies repeated their earlier performance in the third with a pair of early goals to go up 4-1.

Bjugstad cut the lead to two goals at 10:53 of the third with a power-play blast – his team-high 15th of the year – with assists from Haula and sophomore Kyle Rau and Condon made it 4-3 at 14:26 with his 10th of the year from Mark Alt and Mike Reilly. The Gophers would finish the game 2-for-4 on the power play and 2-for-2 on the penalty kill.

The late rally would fall just short, however, as St. Cloud State would avenge their 4-2 loss to Gophers on Friday night.

Minnesota, which outshot the home team 39-21 on Saturday, peppered Ryan Faragher in goal for the Huskies. Faragher made 36 saves to improve to 17-9-1. Gopher freshman goalie Adam Wilcox suffered a rare loss in his freshman campaign, making 17 saves to drop to 18-4-4 on the season.

The Gophers return to action next weekend with a special WCHA series against border rival Wisconsin. Minnesota heads to Madison on Friday before playing in the team's first outdoor game of the modern era on Sunday as part of the OfficeMax Hockey City Classic.

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