MINNEAPOLIS- It may be a cliche but few things are more valuable in the playoffs than defense and a hot goaltender.
Unfortunately for Bemidji State (6-22-8), those translated into a pair of heartbreaking losses to end the season.
A night after Kyle Rau scored his NCAA-leading 7th game winning goal in overtime, Ben Marshall became Minnesota’s newest hero Saturday when he put the Gophers ahead for the first time with 52.7 seconds left. Their resiliency overshadowed 37 saves from Beavers goaltender Andrew Walsh and goals by Jordan George, Cory Ward and Jeff Jubinville.
Despite Minnesota (26-7-5) out-shooting Bemidji State 12-8 in the first period, George scored the lone goal following a penalty to Nick Bjugstad. The Beavers made it 2-0 9:27 into the second period when Ward tipped in a shot by Sam Rendle. Bjugstad, meanwhile, made up for his earlier penalty, scoring 7 seconds into the Gophers’ first power play to cut the lead into one with 4:27 remaining but Jubinville scored 14 seconds later to make it 3-1 Bemidji State.
That was the Beavers’ high point, though. Nate Condon tipped in an Erik Haula shot with 1:06 remaining in the second to make it 3-2 following the second intermission. Minnesota came out strong, peppering Walsh with the first 8 shots of the 3rd, and eventually tied it 7:38 into the period when freshman A.J. Michaelson was left open on a line change. Overtime for the second straight night seemed inevitable before Marshall skated through the neutral zone, around a BSU defender and beat Walsh between the legs to send the Gophers to the Final Five on a 5 game winning streak (the last 4 against the Beavers).
Minnesota next plays Friday against an opponent to be determined. (more…)