SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Minnesota-Duluth had a start to forget. No. 1 Minnesota had trouble putting the game away.
Neither was completely unexpected from the first game of the season, with a new face being put in a prominent position on one side and the pieces being put back together on the other.
The Golden Gophers emerged with a 4-3 victory in the first Ice Breaker Tournament semifinal game Friday behind a goal and two assists from Kyle Rau, but they weren’t thrilled with the way things played out at the Compton Family Ice Arena.
Minnesota scored twice in the first six minutes and held a 4-1 lead after two periods, only to have the Bulldogs climb back into the game with a pair of goals early in the third.
So it goes in the first half of October.
“It’s just shinny hockey going on,” Rau said. “That’s not going to be there in two weeks from now.”
The Gophers play either host Notre Dame or Rensselaer on Sunday for the championship. The tournament takes a break Saturday because of a Notre Dame home football game.
That day off will give the coaches some more time to dissect the game video, which might not be an enjoyable process.
Minnesota-Duluth gave freshman Kasimir Kaskisuo his first collegiate start in goal against the nation’s top-ranked team, and the Gophers got the puck behind him on their first two shots on goal.
[photoshelter-gallery g_id=”G0000oebFDO1ZFzk” g_name=”20141010-Minnesota-Minnesota-Duluth” f_show_caption=”t” f_show_slidenum=”t” img_title=”casc” pho_credit=”iptc” f_link=”t” f_bbar=”t” fsvis=”f” width=”500″ height=”375″ bgcolor=”#AAAAAA” bgtrans=”t” btype=”old” bcolor=”#CCCCCC” crop=”f” trans=”xfade” tbs=”4000″ f_ap=”t” linkdest=”c” f_fullscreen=”f” f_constrain=”f” twoup=”f” f_topbar=”f” f_bbarbig=”” f_htmllinks=”f” f_enable_embed_btn=”f” f_show_watermark=”f” f_send_to_friend_btn=”f” f_smooth=”f” f_mtrx=”f” f_up=”f” target=”_self” wmds=”llQ6QNgpeC.p1Ucz7U.f2JHQKSXccg6Ko2pruYxr1I39Dn.wiS6RfIa0ewb6z_Xqjyyhww–” ]Sam Warning started it 30 seconds into the game on a breakaway feed from Rau, and Rau doubled the lead off of a short-handed setup by Hudson Fasching a short time later.
“They’re too good a team to spot goals to,” Bulldogs coach Scott Sandelin said. “Probably not the start that we all envisioned, but I thought [Kaskisuo] battled through it.”
Ahead by two entering the third period, the Gophers looked sloppy while the Bulldogs put on the pressure.
The results were Andy Welinski and Dominic Toninato goals in the first 4:16 of the final period to cut Minnesota’s lead to 4-3.
Minnesota, which had only one player making his collegiate debut — defenseman Jack Glover — compared to five for Minnesota-Duluth, nevertheless is going to take some time to get back to a high level, coach Don Lucia said.
“We’re not the same team as how we ended,” Lucia said. “We’ve got new guys playing and we’ve got a lot of room to grow.”
Justin Kloos gave the Gophers a 3-0 lead in the second period before Toninato scored his first of two goals in the game on a power play later in the period.
As they did again in the third period, the Bulldogs put on the pressure after getting on the scoreboard in the middle period. Justin Crandall put on a nice spin move and got the puck to the front of the net, but Austin Farley directed it wide.
Less than a minute after that chance, however, the Gophers’ Fasching redirected a Michael Brodzinski shot through Kaskisuo’s pads for a 4-1 lead.
“A two-goal lead and a three-goal lead, that’s a big jump,” Rau said. “I think it’s a bigger jump than one to two.”
Minnesota-Duluth pressed again in the third after pulling within one, and Farley again had a chance in front of the net but Gophers goaltender Adam Wilcox got a glove on it.
“I liked how we finished the third period, which you should,” Sandelin said. “You should have a little more determination when you’re down. We just couldn’t find the equalizer.”