Cooley’s OT Winner Pushes Gophers Past Huskies 2-1

Minnesota Begins 2nd Half of Big Ten Schedule after St. Cloud Split

Minneapolis, MN – In front of a sold-out Mariucci Arena, Logan Cooley delivered.

The freshman phenom, just back from an epic World Junior tournament performance, delivered the knockout blow with less than 20 seconds left in overtime on Sunday, scoring in the 3×3 overtime period to lift the Minnesota Gophers (14-4-2-2 Overall, 10-2-0-0 B1G) to a 2-1 win over the St. Cloud State Huskies (14-4-1-1, 6-3-1-0 NCHC).

After a defensive struggle Saturday in St. Cloud, Sunday’s contest was another low-scoring affair. In a preview of the type of hockey we often see in the NCAA tournament, both teams put sound defensive hockey was on display all weekend long. A full 120 minutes of play plus 4+ minutes of OT resulted in two 5×5 goals for St. Cloud plus two empty net goals, while Minnesota scored one powerplay goal and one 3×3 goal over the weekend set.

Sunday’s affair was enjoyable to watch, a tight, well-played hockey game between two good teams. Both teams played it close to the vest on Sunday, meaning there weren’t too many quality scoring chances throughout.

In fact, both the first and second periods ended in a 0-0 draw, which meant that the story of the weekend boiled down to the third period of the final game. For St. Cloud, a win would mean a sweep over a bitter rival who just so happens to occupy the top spot in the Pairwise. For Minnesota, a win would help exorcise some in-state demons over the past few seasons and reestablish the Gophers as the top team in the nation.

With all that on the line, the Gophers finally dented the twine behind Husky goalie Jaxon Castor, who got the start Sunday after shutting out Minnesota Saturday night. Matthew Knies deflected a Logan Cooley wrist shot from the high circle past Castor to give the Gophers their first goal of the weekend on the powerplay at 2:55 of the 3rd.

The lead was short-lived, as St. Cloud’s Chase Brand scored on a rush just 5:01 later at 7:56 to tie it 1-1.

The two teams battled into the 3×3 overtime period, where an individual effort can and often does end the game. Fortunately for the Gophers, it was Cooley’s effort that delivered the victory. Brock Faber broke up a SCSU rush with about 30 seconds left in the OT before handing the puck to Cooley up the right wing wall. With Faber driving the slot to clear the way, Cooley dragged the puck all the way to the left side of the crease before lifting it over Castor through a narrow window into the back of the net.

The goal gave the Gophers the 2-1 win and maintained their momentum heading into the second half of the conference season. Minnesota has a commanding eight-point lead over Penn State through the first 12 games of the Big Ten schedule, with Ohio State one point back of PSU in third. Next weekend, Minnesota travels to South Bend to battle the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame, before returning home to host Michigan and Michigan State in back-to-back weekend contests.

About Chris Eckes 147 Articles
Gopher Hockey fan since birth. Avid golfer. Fantasy Sports enthusiast.