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NCAAM: Bullet Points (Oct. 17)

By Kyle McLaughlin , 10/17/23, 1:00PM CDT


St. Thomas arrives, Bemidji State splits at Ice Breaker, and Minnesota Duluth's Ben Steeves off to hot start.

Mack Byers scores for St. Thomas during last weekend's series between the Tommies and the University of Minnesota.

No. 2 Minnesota (2-0-0) vs. St. Thomas (1-3-0)

Facing off for the first time since the Tommies moved up to Division I, the Gophers made the short crosstown trip to the Xcel Energy Center on Friday night before hosting St. Thomas in the newly renovated 3M Arena at Mariucci Saturday night. 

Coming in with a 1-1-0 record after playing a close series against St. Cloud State the weekend prior, UST came ready to play on Friday and gave the Gophers everything they had. A comfortable 2-0 Gopher lead after one was undone in the second period, with a shorthanded Mack Byers goal igniting the Tommies on their way to a 3-2 lead after two periods. UST increased their lead early in the third period before the Gophers tallied three goals in under six minutes, putting Minnesota back ahead 5-4. Lucas Wahlin scored his second goal of the game late to tie it at 5-5 and force overtime before Jimmy Snuggerud scored the OT winner on a beautiful solo effort. 

Game two was less of a back-and-forth affair than the night prior, with the Gophers playing a steadier defensive game en route to a 3-0 victory. Jimmy Snuggerud scored the first two goals for Minnesota, his third and fourth goals of the weekend for a five-point series before Brody Lamb slotted away a late empty net goal. Justen Close was stellar between the pipes, saving all 24 shots faced to start the season 2-0. These two rosters combined feature 42 Minnesota natives, with all 14 goals over the two nights being scored by Minnesotans. 

Minnesota will travel to face their biggest rivals this coming weekend in Grand Forks, where the team will potentially be without Mike Koster, Mason Nevers, Ryan Chesley, and Nathan Airey due to injury. St. Thomas will remain home and take on Lindenwood University (1-2-1) in Mendota Heights.  

Minnesota's Jimmy Snuggerud scored in overtime to lift the Golden Gophers to a 6-5 win over St. Thomas last Friday at the Xcel Energy Center.

Minnesota State (2-0-0) vs. No. 10 St. Cloud State (1-3-0)

Starting the season unranked, Minnesota State and their entirely new coaching staff welcomed No. 10 St. Cloud State to Mankato, playing in their season opener compared to the Huskies, who had two games already under their belt. These two teams squared off five times the season prior, with SCSU winning three of five games. 

The Huskies drew first blood in the opening period, with Apple Valley native Barrett Hall scoring the second goal of his young college career. St. Cloud’s Joe Molenaar made it 2-0 early in the second before the Mavericks responded, with goals by Lucas Sowder and Brett Moravec tying it up 2-2 before the period expired. A scoreless third period led to yet another game going to overtime, with sophomore Adam Eisele scoring a nifty wrap-around goal unassisted to claim an opening night victory for the Mavericks.  

Minnesota State carried the momentum from the overtime win on Friday into the rematch on Saturday. The Mavericks led 3-0 early in the second period off goals from Sam Morton (two) and Brenden Olson, forcing a goaltender change for the Huskies. It took until there was only 4:05 remaining in regulation for SCSU to get on the scoreboard, but their comeback was short-lived, as Minnesota State added two empty net goals soon thereafter to win 5-1 and sweep at home. 

Coach Luke Strand and the Mavericks will look to continue their unbeaten start against UMass (2-1-0) at home this coming weekend. St. Cloud State will also remain at home and hope to return to the win column when they battle Alaska Fairbanks (1-2-1). 

Bemidji State (1-1-0)

Along with North Dakota, Bemidji State co-hosted the Ice Breaker Tournament this past weekend, participating in the event for the first time in program history. Playing in two close battles, the Beavers kicked off their season against Wisconsin on Friday before returning to the Sanford Center on Saturday to take on Army. 

Friday’s game was a back-and-forth affair that saw the Beavers come back from being down 2-1 in the second to leading 3-2 partway through the third. However, a Badger powerplay goal with 9:12 remaining tied the game to force overtime, leading to Cruz Lucius burying his own rebound off a breakaway, scoring his second goal of the game in Wisconsin’s win. The shots were highly lopsided in this game – 61 to 19 in Wisconsin’s favor – with junior goaltender Mattias Scholl making 57 saves, which broke a 34-year Bemidji program record. 

The Beavers flipped the script against Army in game two, tying the game at 2-2 with 7:30 remaining in regulation before winning 3-2 just under a minute into overtime. All three goals came off the sticks of Minnesota natives, with Adam Flammang starting things off before Eric Pohlkamp’s tying goal and Lleyton Roed clinching the comeback victory. Drafted in the most recent NHL Draft in the fifth round by San Jose and selected as the CCHA’s Preseason Rookie of the Year, you can expect big things out of the freshman defenseman Pohlkamp this season. 

Before starting a run of CCHA opponents, the Beavers will now square off against No. 14 Minnesota Duluth in a home-and-home series. 

Adam Flammang tallied a goal in Bemidji State's 5-2 win over Wisconsin last weekend.

No. 17 Minnesota Duluth (1-0-2)

After tying Michigan Tech the weekend prior in the US Hockey Hall of Fame Game, the Bulldogs welcomed Northern Michigan to Amsoil Arena for their first two-game series of the season. For some reason, the teams found little to like about one another, resulting in 33 (!) penalties called over the two nights. 

Round one of the physical contest saw the Bulldogs jump to a 3-0 lead in the first period before the Wildcats scored three unanswered to tie it at 3-3 in the second. Ben Steeves scored the go-ahead goal for UMD before Northern Michigan scored two midway through the third period to take a 5-4 lead. Freshman forward out of Baxter, MN, Anthony Menghini scored a late equalizer before the teams skated to a scoreless overtime period, tying the game 5-5. 

On night two, NMU scored seconds into the contest before the Bulldogs answered with four straight goals, leading 4-1 early in the second. Starting the third period ahead 6-3, Blake Biondi made it 7-3 before the Wildcats responded with back-to-back goals, leading to a tense final ten minutes before an empty net goal sealed the 8-5 victory. Of the 23 goals scored in the series, 14 came on special teams. Closing out last season as the Bulldogs’ top scorer with 21 goals and 28 points, Ben Steeves has started right where he left off, recording six points (four goals, two assists) over the two games. 

UMD will next face Bemidji State, a team the Bulldogs went 1-0-1 against last season. 

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