Gophers top Canisius in NCAA Tournament 9-2 after 6-goal 3rd period

Matthew Knies of the Gophers' hockey team handles the puck during Minnesota's game against UMass in the NCAA Tournament Friday night. ((credit: University of Minnesota Athletics))

Canisius gave the University of Minnesota men’s hockey team a scare for 30 minutes.

The Gophers, the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, trailed No. 16 seed 2-1 less than four minutes into the second period. There was no panic. About five minutes later, Aaron Huglen tied it 2-2.

Minnesota poured it on from there, with six third period goals and eight unanswered in a 9-2 win over the Griffs in the Fargo Regional semifinals at Scheels Arena. The Gophers advance and will face St. Cloud State, which beat Minnesota State-Mankato 4-0 in the early game, Saturday for a trip to the NCAA Frozen Four in Tampa, Fla.

Connor Kurth broke the 2-2 tie for the Gophers with a goal off a feed from Mike Koster at 18:04 of the second period to give Minnesota the lead. It turned out to be the game-winner.

The game turned early in the third period, after Canisius was penalized with a five-minute major and a game misconduct for Stefano Bottini’s hit to the head on Jackson LaCombe. The Gophers capitalized with a pair of goals on the man advantage to take a 5-2 lead. Jimmy Snuggerud scored a rebound goal at the 1:10 mark off a shot from LaCombe. Less than 90 seconds later, Brody Lamb scored.

Bryce Brodzinki added a third period hat trick, with goals at 9:57, 12:50 and the 19:05 mark. Mason Nevers added a power play goal at 12:28 as the Gophers had four goals on the man advantage in the win.

Logan Cooley had three assists, and Rhett Pitlick added a pair of assists in the win. Justen Close finished with 17 saves in net.

It was a slower start than the Gophers would’ve liked, but they looked like the No. 1 team in the nation that they’ve been most of the season over the last 30 minutes. The Gophers and Huskies, Bob Motzko’s old team, meet at 5:30 p.m. Saturday for a trip to Tampa. The two teams split during the regular season, with each home team winning in early January.