Minnesota returned to NCAA sanctioned play on Sunday when the Golden Griffins of Canisus came to town at Mariucci Arena. Tony Capobianco started in between the pipes for the Golden Griffins and Adam Wilcox started in net for the Golden Gophers.
Twelve seconds in, Minnesota used Kyle Rau to take the game’s first lead off an even strength rip from near the blue line, with Jake Parenteau and Nick Bjugstad getting assists. Right off the hop, it was clear that Canisus’ defenses were in a league of their own—and that league was nothing like the WCHA hockey we’re used to seeing from teams like Minnesota.
Shots were two apiece in the first 2:30, so Canisus was getting their shots on goaltender Adam Wilcox. Offense was hard to find for the Golden Griffins, as the majority of the first few minutes were spent in their defensive end.
Minnesota was outshooting Canisus 8-2 in the first six minutes, and it seemed like the puck possession favored that of the Gophers to the first television timeout. Adam Wilcox would get his first major test at the 8:08 mark when a shot from point blank was stopped by the Gopher netminder.
The first ten minutes elapsed with a Golden Gopher lead, and it was intriguing seeing the Gophers step out of the box with that lead. The comparison I took away to note in my head for when Minnesota State comes to town is how the two opening periods will compare. Another point I thought was interesting, especially through twelve minutes was the absence of a penalty. Good, disciplined hockey can be fun to see develop.
As the opening stanza cycled into its final stretch, Minnesota was outshooting Canisus 14-6, and the chances that Minnesota was getting seemed better than did the chances for the Golden Griffins. Minnesota was also outdrawing (like, winning more faceoffs) than Canisus, to the tune of 13-6 at one point in the first twenty. The first penalty went to Minnesota at 16:20 for too many men on the ice. Canisus could not capitalize on their power play, only getting one shot off.
Shots at the end of one period were 14-8 to Minnesota, and power plays had Canisus going 0-1.
Through the first ninety seconds of the second period, Minnesota was picking up right where they left off. Shots were 4-1 through the first 1:52 of the middle frame, favoring the Gophers. At 2:46,
Canisus drew their opening penalty when Ryan Bohrer went to the box for hooking.
Minnesota would capitalize in the speed game, out pacing Canisus on every puck during the man advantage. As a result, Minnesota was held without a goal on its advantage despite holding the 1-0 lead. Shots were 21-9 through 25:27 in the game, and yet the Golden Griffins were still hanging on by a thread.
Minnesota still controlled much of the pace to the game’s halfway point, and the shots favored the Gophers by the same 21-9 count as it was early in the middle frame, with Canisus really not posing much of a realistic threat. Wilcox made a heck of a save just past the midway point of the game on a rare Canisus rush up the ice. The score remained 1-0 in favor of Minnesota.
As the second period ticked to its conclusion, Minnesota was clearly in control of the puck possession but mistakes with passing and shooting were somehow keeping the Golden Griffins in the game. That is, until Minnesota’s Adam Wilcox had something to say about it.
Shots were 25-12 in favor of Minnesota with five minutes left in the middle stanza, and it was clear that Canisus was only a shot away from the tie. The game would slow down to a crawl as each team’s legs were clearly tiring. Shots at the end of two periods favored Minnesota 28-13 (3-1 MINN in final five minutes). Each team was also 0-1 on power plays.
At 1:44 of the third period, Nate Condon would send Minnesota to the box for tripping, giving the Golden Griffins a second power play. Canisus could not get anything going with its advantage however, and the Golden Gophers still held a 1-0 lead in the game.
As twelve and a half minutes remained, Minnesota had itself a solid thirty shot effort compared to Canisus’ fourteen. At 9:36 of the third period, Canisus would send Logan Roe to the sin bin for hooking, giving Minnesota its second power play. As can be expected, Minnesota was given gifts with early chances in the first seventy-two seconds of their advantage. As the power play expired, Canisus was still hanging on to some semblance of life.
Shots were 37-17 to Minnesota entering the final six minutes of play, and that signaled time for the Golden Griffins to turn up the heat. But, as with the time before that, Minnesota was keeping the oven piping hot with puck possession and shot opportunities aplenty.
Shots once the game ended favored Minnesota 42-20, and each team was 0-2 on power play advantages.
Minnesota resumes its season next weekend with a home and home series as Minnesota State comes to town Friday and Minnesota goes on the road Saturday. Both games on FOX Sports North. Both Friday and Saturday’s tilts are set for 7pm faceoffs with Doug McLeod and Kevin Gorg on each of the calls. Be sure to hit the Facebook page this Thursday for the Prelude to the Preview from the home base followed Friday by the Preview Show live from Mariucci Arena.
Geoff Discher is quadrust.com’s Minnesota Golden Gophers Hockey Examiner as well as the National College Hockey Examiner. Leave a comment below, or feel free to reach him at Disch61@hotmail.com with comments, story ideas, or any general talk surrounding college hockey. You can find him on Facebook as well by clicking here as well as here and joining the conversation from the social media side as well. He’s always chock full of fact and opinion. I’m also on Twitter @GophHkyExmnr. Check it out!
Until next time, I’ll see you at the rink!