Adam Wilcox and Ryan Faragher would head into battle in the West Regional final from the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul on Sunday night, and the winner would advance to the Frozen Four at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia to be played April 10-12.
Both teams were shot less in the first two minutes and the aim for both teams seemed to be garnering the first goal of the night. Connor Reilly put the first shot on goal of the game for Minnesota at just past two minutes in, and it was a slim test for Faragher who knocked it aside.
Minnesota’s most substantial possession in the first five minutes saw an additional shot on goal but the feeling was that of “more zone time, the better.”
There were no penalties in the first seven minutes plus of action, and that allowed a free flowing game to develop on both ends of the ice, and the even strength play for both teams was right on par with where they should be in terms of where the playoffs were at.
Justin Kloos broke the ice for Minnesota at 11:09 on even strength, giving the Gophers the 1-0 lead. Kloos was assisted by Nate Condon and Justin Holl.
As the end of twenty minutes rolled in from St. Paul, Minnesota held the slimmest lead in hockey and an 9-4 shots advantage as well.
The second period would get underway with each team firing a shot on goal through 2:09, and there were zero in terms of penalties being called in the first 22:09 of game play.
Minnesota’s Seth Ambroz would put the Gophers up two at 3:48 of the second period when he put the puck in the net. Jake Parenteau and Travis Boyd would assist Ambroz on his fourteenth goal of the year.
As thirty minutes would come and go in St. Paul, an important stat to track was the fact that St. Cloud State only had nine total shots on net. This fact could’ve been due to blocked shots or shots that went wide of the net.
Minnesota went up 3-0 at 9:53 as Justin Kloos scored his second goal of the night on even strength. SCSU’s Brooks Bertsch was also cited by the zebras for boarding at 9:53, giving Minnesota the game’s opening power play.
The Minnesota power play failed to convert in its advantage, but the Gophers were well enough ahead where it seemed that bench boss Don Lucia and assistant Mike Guentzel need not be pressured at that juncture.
Shots were 15-12 in Minnesota’s favor through 34:00, but Adam Wilcox was keeping the shutout alive for the Gophers. Charlie Lindgren would replace Ryan Faragher in net with about five minutes left in the second period, and it seemed to help the Huskies slightly regain their hockey legs.
At the end of forty minutes, Minnesota had the commanding lead and shots on goal were 19-15 in Minnesota’s favor.
Through two periods, only one penalty was on the books, and the Minnesota defense was playing what I like to call “balls to the wall” in most spots fronting goaltender Adam Wilcox. There’d be occasional lapses, but it wasn’t anything Wilcox couldn’t handle with all eighteen pucks saved on the night to 45:00.
Minnesota would get their second power play of the game at 8:07 of the third as Daniel Tedesco would be called for slashing. Seconds later, at 8:16, Minnesota’s Kyle Rau buried a rebound on the power play. Mike Reilly and Travis Boyd would assist on the goal that seemingly brought the Gophers through to Philly.
Coincidental penalties were called at 12:11 against SCSU’s David Morley and Minnesota’s Brady Skjei for high sticking and roughing respectively. St. Cloud State’s Joey Benik drew an elbow (indirect contact to the head) at 13:45, giving Minnesota a power play.
The Gophers power play would go up in smoke, but Minnesota's defense was no match for SCSU's lack of offense.
Minnesota, with the win, would move on to the Frozen Four (national semifinals) on April 10, facing off against North Dakota. The game will take place at the Wells Fargo Center. Shots in the game finished 35-24 to Minnesota with power plays going 1-3 to Minnesota.