The Gophers played a much better game Saturday night, coming away with a 3-3 draw against the hometown Sioux of the University of North Dakota.
The Gophers got on the board first, with Jay Barriball beating UND goalie Brad Eidsness high glove side on a two-on-one rush. Barriball elected to take the shot himself and put the puck past Eidsness. The goal, the Gophers first of the year at 6:20 of the period, was unassisted. Don Lucia went with sophomore goaltender Kent Patterson in the second game of the series. Patterson came up strong in the first period, stopping all 13 shots he faced.
The second period has been tough for the Gophers over the past couple years, and it was looking to be that way in this game as well. North Dakota came out firing, and drew an early power play which they capitalized on when Chay Genoway scored at 2:46 of the period on a shot off of Aaron Ness' kneecap, tying the game up at one goal a piece. Assists to Danny Kristo and Christian VandeVelde. The Sioux took the momentum of that goal right to the Gophers and drew another penalty just a few minutes later. On the ensuing power play, Chay Genoway struck paydirt again, tucking in his own shot that glanced off the pipe and behind Gopher goalie Patterson. It was Genoway's third power play goal of the year, and it came at 6:55 of the period. The Sioux continued their dominance, drawing yet another penalty at about the midway point of the period. This time, however, the Gophers struck back. The opportunistic Taylor Matson chipped the puck past a Sioux defender and rushed it up the rink, feeding Mike Hoeffel for a one-time shot that beat goaltender Eidsness and tied the game up at 2-2. The goal was a nice boost for the Gophers, who rode the wave of momentum the rest of the period and looked much better from that point on in.
The Gophers really came out firing in the third period, and took it to the Sioux. They had a lot of nice offensive-zone posession and several nice scoring opportunities. It was a period with a lot of up-and-down action, with the Gophers getting the better of the chances. The Gophs finally captialized when Mike Hoeffel knocked in a Patrick White rebound off the endboards, giving the Gophers a huge 3-2 lead. Ryan Flynn was credited the second assist at 11:52 of the third period. The Sioux, down but not out, did not give up, and at 13:10 tied the game up on a seeing-eye shot that somehow found the back of the net from Jake Marto. The assists went to Darcy Zajac and Mario Lamoureux.
The rest of the third period was action-packed, including several great scoring chances. The Gophers had a shot at an empty net with about a minute to go, but a Sioux defenseman was able to kick the puck away in the crease.
The game moved into overtime, where neither team really had a great scoring chance. It ended in a 3-3 tie, with the final shot total ending up at 34-19 in favor of the Sioux. The Gophers got one point out of the weekend with a loss on Friday and a tie on Saturday.
Last night's 3 Gopher Stars of the Game:
3) Jay Barriball
Barriball scored the all-important first goal of the game and, more importantly, the first Gopher goal of the year. The Gophs needed a spark to get this game off on the right foot, and Barriball provided it, putting a great shot past Eidsness for the goal. All-around nice performance from Barriball.
2) Mike Hoeffel
Hoeffel scored the Gophers' second and third goals of the game, but other than that the big winger seemed pretty invisible on the ice. No doubt the goals were huge boosts for this Gopher team, but Hoeffel will need to assert himself in every aspect of the game - mucking it up in the corners, being an asset in front of the net, playing keep-away on the penalty kill - if he can carry this Gopher team on his broad shoulders.
1) Taylor Matson
Matson was once again the best Gopher skater on the ice last night, providing great uptempo skating and a much needed burst of energy. Matson did all the work on Hoeffel's shorthanded goal, and on the power play, penalty kill and 5-on-5 he took control of the game. Matson is a real treat to watch and, if his energy level and desire to win can be infectious, he should be able to spark the Gophers to a great season.
The Gophers next face Denver at Mariucci Arena. The games are this upcoming Friday and Saturday. The puck drops at 7:00.