Logan Cooley celebrates Matthew Knies overtime winner.
Logan Cooley celebrates Matthew Knies overtime winner.

Minnesota Knies!

Minneapolis, MN – When Minnesota and North Dakota get together, the intensity always seems to get turned up to 11.

It’s nice when the game lives up to the bill.

In front of a lively Mariucci crowd, the Minnesota Gophers (4-1-0 Overall) beat the North Dakota Fighting Hawks (2-2-1) in dramatic fashion, scoring with the goalie pulled to tie the game and then scoring again in overtime to win. Matthew Knies got the game-winner in the 3×3 overtime period, driving the net with an individual effort before sliding the puck past UND’s goalie Drew DeRidder, who was outstanding all night long for the Hawks.

North Dakota scored the game’s first goal on a Jake Schmaltz tip in off a Ty Farmer wrister from the point. The first period was played pretty evenly, with shots 8-7 in favor of the Gophers.

No other goals were scored until late in the second, when Minnesota finally got on the board. Jackson LaCombe gathered the puck at the top of the point before skating down the right-wing circle and firing a backhander past DeRidder. The 18:37 goal was LaCombe’s first of the year. North Dakota took the momentum right back, as Jaxon Nelson took a penalty just 10 seconds after the LaCombe goal, and UND’s Riese Gaber scored on the ensuing powerplay in the final minute of the middle frame to give the Hawks a 2-1 lead heading into the 3rd.

Despite the scoreboard, the Gophers started to take control of the game in the second period. Shots were 15-7 in favor of Minnesota in the 2nd period, with the Gophers doubling UND’s shot attempts 26-13 in the middle stanza. As long as UND didn’t get a third goal, there was a sense that Minnesota was still in the game.

It took almost the whole third period, but the Gophers were able to tie it at 2-2. With Minnesota controlling the puck in UND’s zone down by 1 late, coach Bob Motzko pulled goalie Justen Close with just under two minutes left in the period. Mason Nevers, who Motzko described after the game as “the best player on the ice” all game, came off the bench and slapped his stick on the ice, looking for a pass. Mike Koster delivered Nevers the puck, and Nevers shot a wrister that deflected into the net. The 18:36 goal tied the game at 2-2, and slammed the momentum back in Minnesota’s favor.

In the 3×3 overtime, Minnesota won the opening draw and never gave up the puck. Knies took a pass at the right circle, muscled past his defender to the net, and somehow got the puck past DeRidder to win the game 3-2 for the Gophers.

It was a game that it felt like Minnesota had the better of, and the shot attempts back that up – for the game, the Gophers had 69 total shot attempts to North Dakota’s 36.

The Gophers and Hawks are at it again Saturday night, with the puck dropping at 7PM.