The Gophers were on track for yet another well-played game in which they fought hard but couldn't score a big goal, only to lose a close one. Then the team's newest player provided the spark that the team needed and had been waiting for.
Transfer forward Jacob Cepis scored the game-tying goal with 2:04 to play in the third period, and the Gophers killed off an overtime power play to scrape out a tie against the visiting North Dakota Fighting Sioux 3-3.
The Gophers and Sioux played a pretty even first period. The Sioux, however, got on the board first with a late first period goal by Freshman Danny Kristo. He beat Gopher goalie Alex Kangas with a shot high on Kangas' glove side.
The second period treated the Gophers well. They scored twice in the first three minutes, the first goal a power play tally from sophomore forward Jordan Schroeder on a shot from the point and the second an opportunistic chance pounced on by Patrick White.
The play continued to be even up throughout the second period until Kristo's second goal of the game at 13:24, which tied it at two goals apiece.
The Sioux took the lead early in the third on a goal by Brad Malone. Malone took a nice pass from behind and to the left of Alex Kangas and slid the puck past the Gopher keeper.
The play was still pretty even until there were only two minutes left in the third period, when Jordan Schroeder and Jacob Cepis took an opportunistic 2-on-2 rush and Cepis beat Sioux goaltender Brad Eidsness with a shot from between the circles.
The overtime was fairly uneventful, with no team getting any real good chances, despite a Sioux power play that came from a Nick Leddy cross-checking penalty.
Three Gopher Stars of the Game
3. Cade Fairchild
Fairchild played solid defense all game, most notably breaking up a Sioux 2-on-1, while adding assists on the Gophers' first two goals of the game.
While Fairchild has been a disappointment thus far on the offensive end (only one goal this year), he has played stout defense and continues to lead the defense with his cool head and tape-to-tape passing ability.
2. Jordan Schroeder
Schroeder was "on" the whole game, and he seems to have found some real chemistry with new linemate Jacob Cepis.
Schroeder scored his first goal since coming back from the World Junior tournament tonight, and, if he can get his game firing on all cylinders, it would be a tremendous boon for this Gopher program.
1. Jacob Cepis
Cepis scored the game-tying goal with only two minutes left against the Gophers' biggest rival. Need I say more? He was all over the ice tonight, agitating the Sioux with his quickness and even surprising some North Dakota players with some unexpectedly big hits.
Cepis will continue to be a big cog in this team's machine for the remainder of the season if this Gopher squad has any chance of playing in the postseason.
The Gophers play the Sioux again tomorrow night in what promises to be a climactic conclusion to this series.
Neither team will be fully satisfied with tonight's tie, so expect both teams to come out playing hard tomorrow. The puck drops at 7:00 tomorrow night!