MINNEAPOLIS – The No. 1 Minnesota men’s hockey team scored twice during a late five-minute major to turn a near loss into a dramatic 4-3 win over Alaska Anchorage on Friday night at Mariucci Arena. Nick Bjugstad tallied a pair of goals in the win while Ben Marshall found the net with 51 seconds left for the deciding score in Minnesota’s first Western Collegiate Hockey Association action of 2013.
After Quinn Sproule sent the Seawolves into the first intermission up 1-0, the Gophers (15-3-3 overall, 7-3-3 WCHA) appeared to right the ship with second period goals from Kyle Rau and Bjugstad to take a 2-1 lead. Alaska Anchorage (3-12-4, 1-11-3) didn’t go quietly, however, opening the third period with two unanswered goals and putting the Gophers in an unusual spot – trailing late.
Minnesota would catch a break though when Tyler Currier was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct for checking from behind with just under five minutes left in regulation. The WCHA’s top power-play took advantage of the opportunity with two power-play one-timers to pick up the win.
Bjugstad picked up his team-high 12th goal of the season (tied for second in the WCHA) to knot the game at 3-3 at 16:49 after being set up by Nate Schmidt and Rau. Minutes later, Marshall snapped a 12-game goal drought dating back to Minnesota’s 4-0 win over the Seawolves on Nov. 9 with a one-timer blast from down low with just 51 seconds remaining in regulation. Mike Reilly and Christian Isackson assisted on the game winner – Marshall’s fourth goal of the season.
The Gophers’s final two goals would push the team to 3-for-6 on the power-play while the penalty kill went 3-for-3 on the night. Minnesota, which outshot the Seawolves 30-20, is now unbeaten in its last seven games – a season-high for the program. Bjugstad (two goals), Schmidt, Rau, and Nate Condon (each with one goal and one assist) paced Minnesota in the win.
Adam Wilcox improved to a WCHA best 14-2-3 this season with the win, making 17 saves. Rob Gunderson fell to 1-5-4 on the season for Alaska Anchorage with 26 saves.
Minnesota and Alaska Anchorage complete this weekend’s series at 7 p.m. CT on Saturday. The series finale will be broadcast on FOX Sports North and 1500 ESPN.