Aaron Huglen prepares to pass
Aaron Huglen prepares to pass

Gophers, Bulldogs Skate to Thrilling 3-3 Tie

Duluth, MN – In an up-and-down affair that featured two overtime power plays, the Minnesota Gophers (4-3-1 Overall, 0-2-0 B1G) settled for a 3-3 tie with the home Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs (3-3-3 Overall, 2-3-1-0 NCHC) Saturday night.

After being dominated 5-1 on Friday evening in Minneapolis, the Bulldogs needed to come out fast and grab some momentum early. They did just that, scoring the first goal of the game to get the home crowd jumping. UMD’s Jack Smith scored on his own rebound at 12:36 of the opening frame to give the home Bulldogs a 1-0 lead.

The second period featured exciting back-and-forth action, when Jimmy Snuggerud scored his sixth goal of the season at 8:59 to tie the game at 1-1. The teams traded power play goals in the middle of the second, with Cole Spicer scoring at 13:10 to give the Bulldogs a short-lived 2-1 lead, before Aaron Huglen scored his own powerplay goal at 15:26 to tie the game at 2-2. 23 seconds later, the Gophers grabbed the lead Jaxon Nelson tipped a Sam Rinzel shot from the point past UMD goalie Matthew Thiessen to put Minnesota up 3-2. Just like that, the Gophers had turned a game-long deficit into their first lead of the night.

Connor Kurth took an interference penalty late in the second, and UMD came out to start the third period on the power play. Ben Steeves took advantage of the opportunity, scoring 53 seconds into the third period on the man advantage to tie the game at 3-3. After the Steeves goal, the two in-state rivals battled the whole third period to determine a winner.

The Gophers put 13 shots on goal in the third period to UMD’s eight, but Thiessen and Justen Close were up to the task, turning aside all the shots (including several quality scoring chances on both sides) to get the teams to overtime knotted at 3-3.

Rhett Pitlick took a tripping penalty at the end of regulation, giving the Bulldogs a prime opportunity to win the game in overtime with a four-on-three powerplay. Again, though, Justen Close stood tall, stopping multiple grade A chances to keep Duluth off the board.

Almost immediately after killing the penalty, Jimmy Snuggerud drew a tripping penalty to give the Gophers their own powerplay with a chance to win the game. UMD’s Thiessen was the best player on the ice in the final minutes, making multiple acrobatic saves in front of would-be empty nets to keep the Bulldogs from getting swept. The clock hit 0:00 with a few seconds remaining on the Gopher powerplay, and the game went down in the books as a 3-3 tie.

Minnesota put a whopping 50 shots on net in the contest, compared to Duluth’s 30.

The teams decided to play a shootout as an exhibition, and UMD scored twice to win the extra contest. The Gophers did not score in their two attempts.

The road doesn’t get any easier for the Gophers, as they travel to Yost Ice Arena to take on the Michigan Wolverines as Big Ten play kicks off in earnest. The Friday-Saturday series is a 6PM central puck drop both nights, with B1G+ streaming the games.