Gophers hockey opens six-game homestand with overtime loss to St. Lawrence
Bob Motzko donned his coachs facade to start the season, trying to be positive about the Gophers weird start to the season that saw the team playing a full series on the first official days of the season before two weeks of exhibitions and another week of just a single game.
But with the team starting a six-game homestand Friday against St. Lawrence, Motzko hoped it was a sign of momentum turning.
We talked about our crazy schedule. Now we get to be home for a little bit. Lets see if we can settle in, Motzko said Wednesday. Were making progress [these] last four games. Were digging through. Lets hope nothings better than coming home.
Well, the homecoming wasnt quite so sweet, as the Gophers dropped 4-3 in overtime to the Eastern College Athletic Conference on Friday at 3M Arena at Mariucci in front of an announced 7,923 fans. The Gophers fell to 2-5-1 while St. Lawrence doubled its victories at 2-8-0. St. Lawrence average 1.3 goals per game before this matchup.
St. Lawrences power play struck first at 15 minutes, 31 seconds in the first period thanks to some finesse. Senior winger Michael Ederer was behind the net and threaded the puck behind a sprawling Mat Robson in the crease for junior center Alex Gilmour to punch home.
But fewer than two minutes later, the Gophers leveled the score from leading scorer Rem Pitlick. The junior center was unmarked by the goal ready to redirect senior winger Brent Gates Jr.s pass.
St. Lawrence only piled on in the second period, first at 13:22 from freshman winger Carson Dimoff, who slapped a high-slot shot off the pipe. About two minutes later, freshman center David Jankowski batted the puck out of the air in front of the goal and past Robson for another power-play score.
Prior to this game, St. Lawrences power play was just 3-for-27. Meanwhile, the Gophers unit was 6-for-29 and had scored in six-consecutive games. Motzko said he would continue to tinker with the line combinations and defensive pairings in order to promote even-strength scoring. And penalty-wise, the Gophers did a bit better than their bad average of seven for 18.3 minutes per game, committing five for 10 minutes.
Gophers junior defenseman Tyler Nanne admitted his team wasnt too familiar with St. Lawrence as the first out-East foe the Gophers have faced this season.
Theyre struggling, but we know a couple of their guys on their team from juniors, Nanne said Wednesday. They move the puck well. Theyve got a fast team. So cant take them lightly.
Nanne took that idea and skated with it in the third period, scoring a short-handed goal and his first of the year. He guided Gates Jr.s pass into the net on a rush to put the Gophers within one. Then senior defenseman Jack Sadek scored a blue-line strike at 15:22 to level the score at 3-all.
But Ederer scored at 3:19 of the sudden-death 5-minute overtime to squash the Gophers comeback attempt.
Motzko spoke earlier this week about how to involve his defensemen more in the offense, especially on 5-on-5. He might not have been expecting two to score and nearly steal a victory, but hell probably take it.
We have to make quicker plays on the offensive blue line. Dont hold it. Dont let lanes close off. Throw pucks in there quicker, Motzko said Wednesday. When you start to feel it, that confident word starts to come out. And theyre battling it right now.