Going into Saturday night’s regular season WCHA finale, Minnesota wanted to do things right and win, but win convincingly. Bemidji State went into the night’s game fresh off of a one-goal loss at the hands of Minnesota’s Nick Bjugstad. Minnesota started Adam Wilcox in net while Bemidji State countered with Mathieu Dugas.
Minnesota’s Zach Budish lobbed the first shot on goal within the first sixty ticks, and much like Friday, the game was slow to develop. The game had that feeling where space was going to be an issue, and scoring would be an issue too.
At 4:04, Minnesota’s Erik Haula lit the lamp first on even strength, giving Minnesota the lead on an assist from Ben Marshall and Kyle Rau was also credited with an assist. The importance of mistakes would be paramount, even as Bemidji looked to get back into the game.
Shots were even at three apiece through the first ten minutes, and six different players each had a shot recorded.
The first major stop for Wilcox happened towards the 11:00 mark as Radoslav Illo raced in on the Gopher netminder, only to get denied. Shots at the 13:00 mark favored Bemidji State by a slim 6-5 margin.
Nick Bjugstad would score at 14:42 on even strength, putting Minnesota up 2-0 on assists from Christian Isackson and Kyle Rau. The odd thing about the first fifteen minutes of play was that there were no penalties for either side, which contributes to the pace of play being quick.
At the end of twenty minutes, Bemidji State really didn’t get anything going of note. Each team was left off the power play, and shots were 10-6 to Minnesota.
A big few saves were made by BSU goaltender Dugas, and at 1:55, Matt Prappavessis scored off a turnover. Prappavessis’ even strength goal had an assist from Jordan George. Ben Kinne was also credited with a secondary assist, and each team was debunking an earlier theory that scoring would be a problem.
Shots were 15-9 in favor of Minnesota with twenty-five minutes gone. Each team was playing disciplined and great hockey. The pace was quick, which was enjoyable to watch.
At 6:37, Minnesota’s Tom Serratore was given a high sticking minor, giving Bemidji State the first power play of the night. The Beavers did a lot to set up in the offensive zone, but were unable to do so despite a Radoslav Illo deflection at one point.
The pace of play picked up after the Beaver power play ended, but immediately slowed down just past the thirty-minute mark. As the second half of the period evolved, Minnesota went out to their second two-goal lead of the night when Zach Budish put the puck in. At 14:26, Budish scored on even strength with assists going to Erik Haula and Jake Parenteau.
At 16:01, coincidental minors were called on BSU’s Ben Kinne for tripping and Minnesota’s Seth Helgeson for interference.
At the end of forty minutes, shots on goal favored Minnesota 33-16 and BSU was also 0-1 on power plays.
The first five minutes of the third period really didn't amount to much offensively, which wasn't a welcome sight for those pro-Beavers up at the Sanford Center. Whenever the Beavers would get offensive zone time, Minnesota goaltender Adam Wilcox would swallow the first shot opportunity.
At 14:03 of the third, Minnesota's Jake Parenteau put the game out of reach when he scored on even strength. Parenteau had assists from Erik Haula and Sam Warning on the goal. The Beavers were clearly mailing it in during the last five minutes, which made it easy for the Gophers to wrap up a top three seed. Christian Isackson would put a goal in at 19:59 for good measure on even strength, getting assists from Mark Alt and Nick Bjugstad.
Shots at the end of the game were 40-24 in favor of Minnesota. Bemidji State was also 0-1 on the power plays.
Minnesota will host a WCHA first round series versus an opponent to be determined. Games will be played next Friday, Saturday, and Sunday’s game is if necessary.
Geoff Discher is Examiner.com's Minnesota Golden Gophers Hockey Examiner as well as the National College Hockey Examiner. Leave a comment below, or feel free to reach him at Disch61@hotmail.com with comments, story ideas, or any general talk surrounding college hockey. You can find him on Facebook as well by clicking here as well as here and joining the conversation from the social media side as well. He's always chock full of fact and opinion. I’m also on Twitter @GophHkyExmnr. Check it out!
Until next time, I'll see you at the rink!