Minnesota and New Hampshire would participate in the IceBreaker championship game on Saturday night at Mariucci Arena. Minnesota was coming off a 6-0 victory over Mercyhurst, and New Hampshire defeated Clarkson 4-1 to advance. Adam Wilcox got the start in net for Minnesota taking on Casey DeSmith of New Hampshire.
New Hampshire won the opening faceoff of the game, and with that, the second game of the season was underway. The first shot of the game was registered at fifty-eight seconds in, and the Gophers were buzzing early in front of the New Hampshire net.
At the end of the first 3:30, Minnesota was limited to two official shots on goal, and the game had a defensive feeling to it in the early going. No penalties were called in the early stages which also helped the play on the ice crank up as well. Through 5:00, shots favored Minnesota 4-2 but a goal had yet to be scored.
At 5:42, elbowing was called on Minnesota’s Jake Parenteau, giving New Hampshire their first power play of the game. There was also incidental contact to the head leading to the call. The Gophers were easily able to kill off the penalty, as the Wildcat power play didn’t get a single shot on goal.
As the ten minute mark crept upon the first period, there were spots that seemed slow and focused in the center of the ice, but that didn’t stop Minnesota from firing eight pucks on goal in that time frame (officially).
At 14:29, Mattias Cleland put UNH behind the eight ball after a tripping penalty gave Minnesota their first power play of the game. UNH was pretty stingy defensively during the two-minute time frame, only giving the Gophers one chance on net.
As the end of one period came upon us, the game was scoreless and shots favored Minnesota 9-6. Minnesota’s Sam Warning was assessed a tripping minor at 19:50 as well.
Twenty-five seconds into the second period, New Hampshire scored the game’s opening goal when Eric Knodel put the puck in the net with assists from Trevor van Riemsdyk and Dalton Speelman. Moments later, van Reimsdyk was assessed a holding penalty (at 0:49). The Gophers were unable to net much on the advantage that they had.
At 4:05, Minnesota tied the game on even strength when Hudson Fasching scored his first goal as a Gopher. Justin Holl and Kyle Rau assisted Fasching on the even strength marker. Shots to the 6:03 mark in period two favored Minnesota only 13-7.
At 6:45, New Hampshire’s Nick Sorkin was assessed a penalty for hooking, giving Minnesota a power play. The Gophers couldn’t convert with time they had, taking a shot on goal and surrendering one during the two minute shift as well. At the 11:13 mark, Minnesota’s Jake Parenteau was assessed a tripping minor, being his second offense of the game. Seconds later, at 11:30, UNH’s Nick Sorkin scored a power play tally with assists going to Trevor van Reimsdyk and Dan Correale.
Sam Warning (from Justin Holl and Hudson Fasching) tied the game for Minnesota at 13:47 on even strength, and the game was back on in “international waters.” Those who aren’t aware by now: Mariucci Arena is a two hundred by one hundred foot frozen pond.
Shots were 20-9 in Minnesota’s favor as thirty-seven minutes elapsed, but the game was far from over. At 17:50, Minnesota inched ahead 3-2 as Vinni Lettieri scored his first goal as a Gopher. AJ Michaelson and Seth Ambroz assisted Lettieri on the goal which inched the home team ahead.
At 18:45, New Hampshire was caught with too many men on the ice, a bench minor, and that gave the Gophers a fresh chance to go up two goals by the end of the second. However, the middle frame would end with Ben Marshall getting a tripping minor at 19:50. Shots at the end of forty minutes favored Minnesota 23-9, and the Gophers would enter the third period having to play four on four hockey for forty-five seconds.
The forty-five seconds which started the period with four on four play ticked off the clock like grains of sand and before we knew it, the game reverted back into true even strength as five skaters were out for each team. Minnesota's Justin Holl would be called for interference at 2:25 of the third period, giving UNH a power play with which they had limited success. At the end of the man-advantage, shots favored Minnesota 25-10.
At the 4:22 mark, New Hampshire's Matias Cleland would draw an interference minor, giving Minnesota a power play with which to work. The power play was Minnesota's fifth. In terms of time, Minnesota was pretty effective, keeping the puck in the Wildcat end for the entirety of the opening minute. However, even with that opening minute, Minnesota was unable to score, making that the fifth power play on the night without success.
Shots were 31-15 in Minnesota's favor as the twelve minute mark of the third period, but the feel of the game saw more coming, and as such, New Hampshire's Eric Knodel was called for checking from behind at 12:51, giving Minnesota a sixth power play. Needless to say, Minnesota's power play came up empty yet again.
As time ticked toward its end on the night, Minnesota was hanging on by a thread. New Hampshire was also a bounce away from tying the game for a third time. Casey DeSmith would exit for New Hampshire with a minute left, giving the Wildcats an extra man. As darkness fell on a lovely fall night, the home team was left standing as your winner. Shots at the end of the game favored Minnesota 34-23. Power plays finished with Minnesota at 0-6 and New Hampshire at 0-5.
The Gophers next play Bemidji State next Friday night.
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 @Disch_InTheVOX.
Until next time, I’ll see you at the rink!