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NCAAM: Minnesota Roundup Feb. 17-18

By Kyle McLaughlin , 02/22/23, 1:00PM CST


Catch up on how Minnesota's Division I men's hockey programs fared last weekend.

Bemidji State (12-13-5, No. 31 Pairwise) hosted Minnesota State Mankato (19-10-1, No. 12 Pairwise) this weekend for an all-CCHA battle, with the previous meeting between these two teams ending with the Beavers sweeping the Mavericks in Mankato.

The first half of game one was scoreless, with Bemidji's Lleyton Roed putting the home team ahead with 5:54 to go in period two, scoring unassisted for his 11th goal of the season. Mankato responded quickly, with freshman Christian Fitzgerald scoring back-to-back goals to put his team ahead 2-1 heading into the third. Just under seven minutes into the period, the Mavericks made it 3-1 on a goal from Lucas Sowder before officially putting the game out of reach when Jake Livingstone added a fourth goal with 9:20 remaining in regulation.

Mankato goaltender Keenan Rancier saved all five shots on net in the third for a three-period total of 15 saves, helping his team secure the win and improve to a record of 9-1-0 in their last 10 games. 

Like game one of the series, the Beavers scored first in game two, with freshman Adam Flammang tallying his fifth goal of the season 8:44 into the game. Mankato went on back-to-back power plays to close out the first period and was able to find the back of the net on the second attempt, with Steven Bellini scoring his first goal of the season to tie it at 1-1.

Periods two and three would then go scoreless, with both goaltenders stopping everything thrown at them, including a penalty shot awarded to Mankato early in the second. In overtime, a holding penalty granted Bemidji a four-on-three advantage, and the Beavers did not waste their opportunity, with Kyle Looft burying a one-timer with only 15 seconds remaining to earn the extra point.

With their win and overtime loss in the series, the Mavericks move into first place in the CCHA standings with a two-point lead over Michigan Tech, a team they will face this weekend in the final series of the regular season. After the weekend, Bemidji State finds fourth place in the CCHA standings heading into their final series against St. Thomas. 

Kyle Looft scored in overtime to lead Bemidji State to a win over Minnesota State.

St. Cloud State (18-8-2, No. 5 Pairwise) made the four-hour trek to Grand Forks to play North Dakota (12-13-4, No. 21 Pairwise) this weekend, a matchup that saw the Huskies sweep the Fighting Hawks in St. Cloud in December, winning by a 13-5 goal margin.

Game one saw the home team score first when Owen McLaughlin beat a defender wide and then finished top shelf with 4:05 remaining in the first. Less than two minutes later, the Huskies responded off a goal from Jami Krannila, scoring a power play goal from his normal spot on the right dot. Krannila would go on to tally the only goal of period two, scoring another power-play goal for his 18th goal of the season.

In the third, St. Cloud would make it 3-1 only 4:06 into the period, with Minnetonka native Joe Molenaar banging home a rebound, again on a power play. Less than two minutes later, North Dakota cut the Huskies' lead to one, with Jake Schmaltz scoring the fifth straight power-play goal of the game, a game where 11 total penalties were called.

With time dwindling and the goaltender pulled, the Fighting Hawks Riese Gaber scored to knot it up 3-3 and force overtime. In overtime, Riese Gaber struck again, tallying his team-leading 18th goal of the season in the team's comeback victory. 

The rematch Saturday night saw the Fighting Hawks strike first again, with Jackson Kunz scoring his fourth goal this season halfway through the first. With less than a minute remaining in period one, the Huskies tied it, scoring their fourth power-play goal of the weekend via a finish from Sartell native Spencer Meier.

Only 18 seconds into period two, the Huskies went ahead 2-1, as Jami Krannila tapped home a loose puck in the crease for his third goal of the weekend and 19th goal this season. That 2-1 lead held through to the second intermission, with St. Cloud goaltender Jaxon Castor saving all 12 shots on net in the second for a two-period total of 22 saves.

An early third-period power play allowed the Fighting Hawks to tie it at 2-2, with none other than Riese Gaber scoring through traffic for his third goal of the weekend.

The game then headed to overtime for the second consecutive night, but neither team scored, with Grant Cruikshank scoring the lone goal in the penalty shootout to help the Huskies secure the extra point in the tie. St. Cloud will remain on the road and travel to Omaha to face off against the No. 13 ranked Nebraska Omaha Mavericks. 

Jaxon Castor, St. Cloud State

The two bottom-ranked teams in the CCHA standings squared off this weekend, the University of St. Thomas (9-19-2, No. 46 Pairwise) and Lake Superior State (6-22-2, No. 59 Pairwise), with the Tommies sweeping the Lakers in their first meeting this season back in November.

The opening frame in game one saw the Tommies ahead 15-6 in the shots category, but neither team scored. With 7:52 to go in the second, the deadlock was broken when Lake Superior's Connor Milburn buried a rebound, tallying only his fourth point this season. It took only a few minutes for the Tommies to tie it, with an all-Minnesotan forward line of Luke Manning (Stillwater), Josh Eernisse (Apple Valley), and Luc Laylin (St. Michael) contributing on the goal.

The 1-1 score remained until the waning minutes of regulation when the Lakers capitalized on a late power play, scoring the go-ahead and game-winning goal with 1:42 to go. In the loss, the Tommies outshot the Lakers 37-25, with Lake Superior's Ethan Langenegger having a strong night in net.  

In game two, St. Thomas took the early lead off a top-shelf snipe from Woodbury native Lucas Wahlin only 6:47 into period one. That 1-0 lead held through the end of period two, with goaltender Aaron Trotter saving all 19 shots faced and the team successfully killing all four penalties through two. In the third, St. Thomas doubled their lead 3:35 into the period, with Trevor Zins scoring off a one-timer on the power play, the first goal this season for the St. Michael native.

Less than two minutes later, the Lakers ended Trotter's shutout bid when they scored on their fifth power play attempt, making it 2-1 with just under 15 minutes remaining in regulation. The Tommies held on late to secure a 2-1 win and split the series on the road. The team will return home for their final regular season series when they host Bemidji State this coming weekend. 

Lucas Wahlin, St. Thomas

University of Minnesota-Duluth (12-15-1, No. 24 Pairwise) was on the road this weekend for a series against the Denver Pioneers (23-7-0, No. 3 Pairwise), who currently sits atop the NCHC standings and swept the Bulldogs in Duluth back in December.

With 5:16 remaining in period one in game one, the Bulldogs struck first off a shorthanded goal from Jesse Jacques, but the Pioneers responded only 90 seconds later to tie it at 1-1 heading into the first intermission. In the second, a rebound finish from Minnetonka native Luke Loheit put the Bulldogs ahead 2-1 just 4:30 into the period. Halfway through the second, the Pioneers went on their third power play of the game and tied it at 2-2, before a Jack Devine goal only a couple minutes later put the home team ahead 3-2.

That 3-2 score held until over midway through the third period before the Pioneers stepped on the gas and pulled away for the win, scoring three goals in five minutes from Jack Devine, Burnsville native Jared Wright, and McKade Webster, winning 6-2. Senior goaltender Magnus Chrona had a 31-save performance in net for the Pioneers, improving to 20-7-0 on the season. 

Game two was another high-scoring affair that saw the Bulldogs jump out to an early 1-0 lead off a goal from Hermantown native Darian Gotz. With 5:15 remaining in the period, the Pioneers tied the game off a Carter Mazur finish, with Mazur tallying his team-leading 20th goal of the season. In the waning seconds of the first, Quinn Olson scored a power play goal to put the Bulldogs ahead 2-1 going into the break.

Period two saw four goals scored, with the Pioneers' Jack Devine scoring his third goal of the weekend to tie it at 2-2, before the Bulldogs scored three unanswered with goals from Luke Johnson, Ben Steeves, and finally Wyatt Kaiser, heading into the final frame with a 5-2 advantage. However, the Pioneers did not go quietly into the night, with Mike Benning scoring a beautiful wraparound goal only 53 seconds into the period before Massimo Rizzo made it 5-4 only 50 seconds later. Freshman phenom Ben Steeves responded shortly thereafter, tallying a power play goal for his 19th goal of the season to put the Bulldogs back ahead by two.

With 11:38 remaining, Massimo Rizzo struck again, bringing the score to 6-5 UMD while recording his 40th point of the season, but the Pioneers were unable to complete the comeback, with UMD holding on for a 6-5 upset win. The Bulldogs will return home for a two-game series against Miami (OH) University before closing out their season against St. Cloud State the following weekend.

Darian Gotz, Minnesota Duluth

A top-10 battle between two Big Ten teams, the University of Minnesota (21-8-1, No. 1 Pairwise) and Penn State University (19-10-1, No. 7 Pairwise), occurred in Pennsylvania this weekend. This matchup resulted in a split the first time these teams met this season.

Prior to game one starting, the Gophers had already clinched their sixth Big Ten regular season championship after the University of Michigan failed to beat Ohio State on Thursday. An outstanding tic-tac-toe passing play led to a Connor Kurth goal 6:47 into the first period, putting the Gophers ahead 1-0. With 1:28 remaining in the period, Jimmy Snuggerud added his 18th goal of the season to make it 2-0.

In the second, it was all Minnesota, with a quick Matthew Knies finish 39 seconds into the period bringing the score to 3-0 before additional goals from Ryan Johnson, Jimmy Snuggerud, and finally, Jackson LaCombe, made it 6-0, officially giving the sold-out home crowd nothing to cheer about. Penn State's Christian Sarlo broke goaltender Justen Close's shutout to make it 6-1, but less than two minutes later, a Logan Cooley breakaway goal brought it to 7-1 to end period two.

A much quieter third period saw the Nittany Lions add a late tally to bring game one to a final score of 7-2, with Justen Close making 35 saves in the win and backup goaltender Owen Bartoszkiewicz playing the last 10 minutes of regulation. 

In game two, Penn State did its best to forget what happened the night before by jumping out to a 1-0 lead only 29 seconds into the game. They would hold that one-goal lead into the first intermission before the Gophers tied it at 1-1 early in the second, with Rhett Pitlick recording his ninth goal and 18th point of the season.

That 1-1 score held through the second intermission and into the final minutes of regulation when Danny Dzhaniyev made it 2-1 Penn State with only 2:03 to go. The Gophers then pulled their goaltender and found the back of the net with only 41.2 seconds remaining, tying it at 2-2 and forcing overtime off a goal from Matthew Knies.

Both teams had chances to finish it in the three-on-three overtime, but the Gophers prevailed, with Logan Cooley beating his defender and feeding Matthew Knies for the game-winner in the slot. After the weekend, the Gophers' top line of Logan Cooley (44), Matthew Knies (36), and Jimmy Snuggerud (43) now have a combined total of 123 points in 32 games played this season.  

Jimmy Snuggerud, Minnesota

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