Cooley’s overtime goal leads Gophers past SCSU

With the overtime clock ticking away, Logan Cooley dazzled the sellout crowd with a game-winning goal and the No. 1/3 ranked Golden Gophers men’s hockey team skated to a 2-1 win against No. 4 St. Cloud State Sunday afternoon inside 3M Arena at Mariucci.

Brock Faber made a perfect play in the defensive end for Minnesota (16-6-0 overall) to break up the Huskies (15-5-0 overall) attack and got the home side on the rush. Cooley picked up the puck from his captain and cut to the middle of the ice before waiting for the goaltender to commit and lifted the game winner into the open cage with 18.8 seconds remaining. The win gave Gophers’ head coach Bob Motzko his 100th career victory for the Maroon and Gold, coming against the team he led for 13 seasons.

Minnesota needed to come up with an immediate defensive stand after being whistled for a penalty on the game’s first shift. After erasing the man advantage, the home side found itself on a power play that forced SCSU to make saves as the teams continued to battle for every inch on the ice. Minnesota, the second-least penalized team in the nation, went to the box two more times before the end of the period and returned to full strength each time during a scoreless opening frame, and stayed out of the box for the remainder of the matinee.

The Gophers got their legs moving early in the second stanza and pinned the Huskies deep inside their own zone, but again, could not find the shooting lanes to get on the board. Following a Justen Close save on one end, Minnesota pushed the tempo and got a partial break before Jaxon Nelson had the puck cleared at the last second. The home side continued to press with its speed advantage and spent two-straight shifts in the offensive zone, only to be denied and the teams went to the locker room deadlocked, 0-0.

Cooley drew a penalty one minute into the third and the Maroon and Gold pounced at the chance, scoring on the man advantage. The current Gophers ignited the capacity crowd minutes after honoring its two most recent NCAA championship teams as Matthew Knies tipped home a Cooley pass after a cross-ice feed by Jimmy Snuggerud for a 1-0 edge at the 2:55 mark. Minnesota nearly doubled its lead as a Nelson shot on another power play beat the SCSU netminder and rang off the left post.

The Huskies got the tying goal seconds after their penalty expired, generating a 3-on-1 break as the player came out of the box. It was the Gophers that continued to carry a majority of the play and spent most of the period in the SCSU end, but the regulation buzzer went off and the game headed into overtime.

It was a cautious extra period for both sides as neither wanted to make a critical mistake until Faber forced the issue and got Minnesota up the ice. Cooley sent the home fans happy with his 11th goal of the year in the matchup of two of the best teams in the country. Close made 21 saves during the victory picking up his 13th win of the season.