ST. PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota-Duluth proved that the old adage of quality being more important of quantity is true on Saturday evening.
The Bulldogs only mustered two shots on goal in the third period of Saturday’s game against Minnesota, but one of them went in and was the game-winner as they beat the Gophers 2-1 in the third-place game of the North Star College Cup at the Xcel Energy Center.
With a little more than two minutes left in the third, Alex Iafallo gathered the puck in the corner and launched a blind pass to the high-slot. The pass connected with Adam Krause, who flipped a backhanded shot past Adam Wilcox to make it 2-1.
“When you’re struggling your best players and your top players have to be your best players,” Duluth coach Scott Sandelin said after the game. “I thought tonight we had a lot of guys that played well. We had some great shifts from our fourth line … it was a good team win.”
UMD’s second shot of the period came right after the goal. The Gophers pulled Wilcox at the end of the game, but didn’t come close to tying it.
Minnesota outshot the Bulldogs 11-2 in the third and 32-26 in the game.
“The third period kind of summed up how it’s been going for us,” Minnesota coach Don Lucia said to begin his postgame press conference, before being asked a question. “I thought Adam [Wilcox] looked really sharp in net tonight and in the third period, we had chances to win the game and it goes off our stick or shoot a puck wide.
“At the end we don’t make a play to get out of our own zone. A little board battle four or five feet inside our own blue line, we should have been in position with a lead there the way we played in the third, that’s disappointing.”
The win came one day after Duluth fell to Bemidji State 4-0. Sandelin said he thought the team worked harder on Saturday.
“We were able to do some things better,” he said. “In the third period, we were on our heels a bit but the guys found a way to get it done.
“Hard work can cure a lot of things. It doesn’t mean you’re going to win, but it certainly helps.”
Minnesota’s season went from bad to worse at the tournament. The Gophers went 0-2 on the weekend and squandered their last opportunity to pick up key nonconference victories.
Minnesota-Duluth struck first the game’s opening period when Dominic Toninato’s wrap-around attempt created a juicy rebound that Krause hammered home for his third goal of the season.
After a second period that saw the two teams play to a stalemate, the Gophers finally put a goal on the scoreboard in the third period’s first minute.
Minnesota was on the power play thanks to a charging call near the end of the second when Justin Kloos gathered a puck near the crease, skated around the back of the net and found Kyle Rau out front for the goal. Rau’s backhanded effort was the eighth goal of the season for the senior.
Both Minnesota and Minnesota-Duluth will return to conference play next weekend. The Gophers will play at Wisconsin and the Bulldogs will head on the road and face Denver.