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NCAAM: Bullet Points (Nov. 21)

By Kyle McLaughlin , 11/21/23, 12:45PM CST


Golden Gophers welcome Notre Dame to Dinkytown, Bemidji State eases into first place in CCHA, and Tommies enjoy bye week before holiday.

Bemidji State (5-7-0) at Minnesota State (5-4-1)

This weekend, an intrastate battle with six conference points on the line was held in Mankato, with the home team skating to a 5-1 statement win Friday night. Leading-scorer Sam Morton opened the scoring for the Mavericks in period one, heading into the second period ahead 1-0, and that lead was quickly doubled by Josh Groll early in the second.

With a 23-save shutout going through two periods for Alex Tracy, Bemidji's Eric Pohlkamp ended that shutout bid 5:28 into the third, scoring off his own rebound on a 1-on-3 rush. Any inkling of a Bemidji comeback was brushed aside soon after, as the Mavericks tallied two goals in the next four minutes to extend their lead to 4-1. A late empty net goal sealed a 5-1 win, with goaltender Alex Tracy having a terrific night in net, saving 31-of-32 shots in his fifth win this season. 

Saturday's rematch was a barnburner that the goaltenders will not use footage from in future highlight compilations, with 13 total goals scored in a 7-6 comeback win for the Beavers. Late arrival to the arena would have resulted in missing the first three goals, with Bemidji making it 2-0 only 3:07 into the game before Minnesota State responded 70 seconds later.

The Mavericks scored four straight goals in a five-minute span, scoring five unanswered to extend their first-period lead to 5-2. Down 5-3 midway through the second, Eric Pohlkamp rifled home a one-timer on the power play to bring it to 5-4, but Minnesota State tallied a power play goal of their own late in the period to make it 6-4 heading into the third.

With just over six minutes remaining in regulation, the Beavers mounted their comeback, scoring three goals - two from Jackson Jutting and one from Lleyton Roed - in two minutes to win 7-6 and stun the home crowd.  

The split series resulted in three conference points for each team, placing Bemidji State in first place with 13 points and Minnesota State in fourth place with eight points.

The Beavers will make the short trip to Grand Forks this coming weekend to battle No. 1 North Dakota (9-2-1), and the Mavericks will remain at home for more conference play, squaring off against Michigan Tech (4-6-3) on Friday and Saturday.  

Jackson Jutting, Bemidji State

No. 6 Minnesota (6-4-2) vs. No. 17 Notre Dame (7-4-2)

The Gophers welcomed the Notre Dame Fighting Irish to campus this weekend, a team that Minnesota has gone 8-1-1 against in their previous 10 meetings. Game one of the series saw Rhett Pitlick open the scoring to put the Gophers ahead 1-0 halfway through the first. However, Grant Silianoff equalized for Notre Dame only two minutes later.

The visitors scored a go-ahead goal early in the second and led 2-1 for most of the period before Jimmy Snuggerud responded with a power play goal, tying it at 2-2 heading into the third. Notre Dame retook the lead 3:30 into the final frame and went on to win it, adding an empty netter for a 4-2 upset win over the Gophers. 

For the second night in a row, Rhett Pitlick kicked off the scoring, making it 1-0 only 2:10 into the game. Tied 1-1 midway through the second, Ryan Chesley walked the puck in from the point and scored with pinpoint accuracy over the goaltender's shoulder to put Minnesota back in front. Jaxon Nelson then tallied his fifth goal and tenth point of the season to make it 3-1 heading into the third.

In the third, Justen Close made 18 saves (for a game total of 37), and Rhett Pitlick added a late fourth goal, his third goal of the weekend, to secure a 4-1 victory and split the series.  

The Gophers will remain at home this coming weekend to play the emerging No. 7 Michigan State Spartans (10-3-1), a team that has gone 5-0-1 in their last six games, playing at Mariucci Arena on Friday, 11/24, and Sunday, 11/26, at 1:00 PM. 

Rhett Pitlick, Minnesota

Minnesota Duluth (3-7-3) at No. 19 St. Cloud State (8-4-0)

An all-NCHC matchup between the Bulldogs and Huskies took place in St. Cloud this weekend, with UMD entering on a losing streak, going 0-5-1 in their last six games, and St. Cloud coming in on a four-game win streak. It was a stalemate through almost the first two periods of game one before the Huskies' Jack Reimann broke the deadlock, with the Blaine alum tallying his first collegiate goal to put the home team in front entering the third.

Midway through the third, the Bulldogs tied it at one on a power play goal, leading to a tense end of the game where Joe Molenaar capitalized on a cross-crease pass to put SCSU back in front late, leading to a 2-1 victory.   

The rematch ended up being another close affair, but unlike the night before, game two was a high-scoring back-and-forth battle with 11 goals scored. The Bulldogs had an answer for every Husky goal through the first two periods, going behind a goal three times but answering with their own goal each instance, leading to a 3-3 score at the end of two. St. Cloud attempted to put UMD behind them for good to start the third, scoring two quick goals in the first 3:20, but the Bulldogs answered midway through the period to bring it back to 5-4.

With three minutes to go in regulation, the Huskies struck once more to regain their two-goal advantage, and even though the Bulldogs pulled one back 70 seconds later, St. Cloud held on for a 6-5 win and series sweep of their in-state rivals. Dylan Anhorn had a three-point night for the Huskies with three assists, and Owen Gallatin also had a three-point night, scoring two goals with one helper for the Bulldogs.  

With zero conference points earned in their first four NCHC contests and a 0-7-1 record in their last eight games, the Bulldogs will look to regroup during their bye holiday week and then return to the win column against Nebraska-Omaha (6-3-1) on 12/1 and 12/2.

Sitting atop the NCHC standings, St. Cloud will look to continue their strong run of form against No. 14 Michigan (6-6-2) at home this weekend, with puck drop at 7:30 PM on 11/24 and 6:00 PM on 11/25. 

Dylan Anhorn, St. Cloud State

St. Thomas (6-5-1) – Bye

At the conclusion of its bye weekend, St. Thomas moved down one spot to second place in the CCHA standings with 12 points. After six series, the Tommies points leaders are Lucas Wahlin (6G, 6A) and Liam Malmquist (3G, 9A) with 12, followed by Cooper Gay (6G, 4A), who has 10. The Tommies will remain at home for the holiday weekend and play Lake Superior State (6-6-0) on 11/24 and 11/25.   

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