Gophers’ Comeback Falls Short As The Wolverines Score 49 Seconds Into Overtime

January 21st, 2023: More late magic for the Gophers but this time Michigan spoils the fun with an overtime winner from Jacob Truscott.

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Minneapolis, MINN – There weren’t many positives to come out of this game besides the way Aaron Huglen and Bryce Brodzinski played and how much that means for the team to get those two going. Along with yet another late third period comeback to force overtime. 

The Gophers started the game extremely flat. They couldn’t clear the zone effectively and they couldn’t enter or keep the play in the offensive zone. So when you start like that you tend to start playing catchup. 

“Michigan deserved to win,” Gophers head coach Bob Motzko said. “I give our guys credit for battling back. But I don’t say it too often, we were flat to start the game tonight.”

Ethan Edwards got Michigan on the board first for his third goal of the year coming unassisted. The play started when Logan Cooley skated the puck into the offensive zone and did one too many dangles before being stripped of the puck. The Wolverines went down the ice on an odd-man rush and scored only four seconds after entering the zone. 

Matthew Knies who was up in the play with Cooley, bolted his way back into the defensive zone and broke up the play but with no other help from the forwards, a loose puck stayed in the slot before Edwards bounced on it and ripped one past Justen Close. 

Adam Fantilli recorded his second of two goals just six minutes after Edwards and just like that the Gophers were down 2-0. Michigan’s second goal was almost the same as their first as the top line for the Gophers got the puck into the offensive zone but later turned it over. 

Gavin Brindley and Fantilli rushed up the ice for a two-on-two, which is never a good thing for opposing teams. Brindley cut around one, then pasted the backchecking Knies, then zipped past Faber and got a shot on net. Fantilli, unprotected, cashed home on the rebound. 

Whenever the Gophers find themselves in catchup games, Motzko turns to the second line, the veterans. Bryce Brodzinski, Mason Nevers, and Jaxon Nelson dumped the puck in and got to work. Nelson checked his man and Nevers picked up the loose puck before sending one to the slot for Brodzinski. The senior forward, who hasn’t notched a point in his last five games, got the Gophers on the board making it a 2-1 game.

The goal was Brodzinski’s tenth of the season. Nevers notched his tenth assist and 18th point. Nelson notched his 14th assist and 21st point on the goal as well. 

Despite the awful start to the period the Gophers found themselves only trailing by a goal to start the second period. Yesterday the Gophers only had five total failed zone exits. Tonight in the first period alone the Gophers had four. 

But to open the second period, Eric Ciccolini went to the box for high sticking. This sent the Gophers to the power play for the second time. Only 12 seconds later, Aaron Huglen showed an impressive drive to the front of the net and slipped one past Erik Portillo tying the game at two. 

Just a hair over two minutes later, Brock Faber ripped a shot from the point and there was Mason Nevers who tipped home his ninth goal of the season. Cal Thomas picked up the secondary assist on the goal.

Once again, Fantilli hushed the crowd with another goal of his own. This time it was Jackson Hallum who skated past the Gophers before getting a shot on net. Fantilli banged home the rebound for his second of the game and third of the series, tying the game at 3-3. 

Jacob Truscott gave the Wolverines the lead with about three minutes remaining in the second period. The goal came from some laziness of a select few Gopher players in front of the net. This led Truscott all alone with a completely wide-open net. 

Only two minutes later and with five seconds left in the period, Jimmy Snuggerud blasted Truscott into the boards. Snuggerud was given a five-minute penalty and a game misconduct for head contact. 

The Gophers were able to kill off the full five-minute penalty and even drew a penalty of their own but couldn’t cash in. So the Gophers were tasked to complete the comeback without their leading point-getter. 

One thing we know about Brodzinski is he scores in bunches. When he’s hot, he’s hot, and you feed him the puck. So without Snuggerud, Motzko put Brodzinski out on the ice to play with Knies and Cooley. 

Jackson LaCombe who has tied it in two straight Friday’s tied it yet again but this time with an assist. LaCombe sent one down the ice, which looked to be icing, but Cooley raced to the puck and quickly sent one to Brodzinski in the slot who ripped one past Portillo for his second goal of the game. 

“We were scrambled up with Snuggerud out but it ended up being the right guy with the puck and we needed that,” Motzko said. “It was all hands deck down the stretch after killing those penalties. But we found a way to make a play.”

The Gophers have been down late in the game three times in their last four games and have now tied it all three times. Minnesota miracle, some people call it. But this time the comeback couldn’t be completed as Truscott scored again to send the Gophers packing. 

“It’s just having that little edge at the end of games mixed with a little bit of desperation,” Brodzinski said on how the team has forced overtime in three of their last four games. “We’re a skilled team, and that desperation comes easy for us. We know how to score goals.”

For what it’s worth, the Gophers have won nine of the last ten regular season series’ against Michigan. That’s a span of 40 games. 

They will play host to Michigan State next weekend and will play a 4:00 pm game on hockey day Minnesota on the 28th of January.

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