The first-place Gophers held on to their WCHA lead over UMD as the freshman scored a pair of goals.
OMAHA — The Gophers fired only 19 shots on net, their second-lowest total of the season, but were efficient.
Especially freshman Kyle Rau. He scored twice on power plays as the Gophers edged Nebraska Omaha 3-2 on Saturday at the CenturyLink Center to sweep their WCHA series. That was the same score as in the first game, which went into overtime.
"It seems like every night there is a new guy that steps up," Gophers coach Don Lucia said.
The No. 5 Gophers (23-11-1, 19-7-0) remained alone in first place with the victory, their fourth in a row. UMD also won, staying two points behind the 'U' going into the final weekend of the regular season.
Nebraska Omaha (14-14-6, 11-10-5) was swept in a conference series for the first time this season, even though the Mavericks struck first.
The counter-punch came quickly. Gophers defenseman Mark Alt carried the puck in deep and scored a four-on-four goal on a nifty backhander 42 seconds after UNO's goal.
"Scoring that first goal after they had gone up 1-0 was key for us because they came out with a little better energy than we did," Lucia said.
The 1-1 tie lasted until the next Gophers power play. Rau stuffed in a puck from near the right post at 9:20 for his 15th goal of the season.
"I don't even know how it went in," Rau said. "I think it went in off his pad or something. I just had to throw it back on net and hope someone else could bang it in."
Instead, Rau's shot found a small hole.
UNO coach Dean Blais apparently didn't like what he was seeing. After Rau's goal, he switched goalies. Freshman Ryan Massa, who had 29 saves Friday, was replaced by senior John Faulkner.
Rau put the Gophers ahead 3-1 in the middle period. Erik Haula, cruising down the left side, spotted Rau on the back door, and Faulkner was helpless.
"It was an unbelievable pass," Rau said. "Right on my tape. I didn't have to do much for it. It was all [Haula]."
Earlier in the period, Rau nearly had a shorthanded goal. He made a beeline to the net, and a UNO defenseman fell down trying to stop him. The Mavericks player dislodged the net and both he and the puck went past the goal line. The referees took a long look at the play and waved off the goal because they couldn't see where the puck was under the player.
Of more significance that second period was an undisclosed injury to Nick Bjugstad, the Gophers' top scorer. He was not on the bench for the final period.
He was probably hurt when UNO defenseman Tony Turgeon, who is 6-4 and 232 pounds, checked Bjugstad into the boards. Turgeon got a boarding penalty. Bjugstad continued to play that period. In fact, he was on the ice when Rau scored.
Lucia said that he thinks Bjugstad will be fine.
"He got dinged a little bit and it was questionable whether he should come back in the third," Lucia said, "and we made the decision at that point in time, look at the big picture. There is no sense risking anything for the last period of hockey this weekend."
|Boston - WP: M. Ott||4||FINAL|
|Minnesota - LP: M. Hoffman||3|
|Chicago WSox||3||Top 8th Inning|
|Kansas City||6||Bottom 8th Inning|
|San Francisco||8:05 PM|
|Houston||0||1st Qtr 11:20|
|LA Lakers||8:30 PM|
|Phoenix||0||1st Prd 12:48|
|Buffalo||0||1st Prd 13:23|
|San Jose||0||1st Prd 14:32|
|NY Rangers||7:00 PM|
|UC Santa Barbara||38|
|San Diego St||73|
|Utah Valley U||83|
|Colorado||56||2nd Half 1:37|
|Cal State Fullerton||47||2nd Half 2:19|
|Long Beach State||59|
|Idaho||63||2nd Half 4:22|
|Wyoming||48||2nd Half 2:55|
|Florida A&M||43||2nd Half 13:19|
|Nicholls||49||2nd Half 10:21|
|Penn State||25||1st Half 0:01|
|Northern Colorado||39||1st Half 0:50|
|Troy||16||1st Half 11:23|
|UCF||10||1st Half 13:02|
|DePaul||8||1st Half 12:40|
|Alabama||2||1st Half 18:31|
|Miami-Florida||2||1st Half 14:38|
|Baylor||17||1st Half 13:35|
|Savannah State||7:00 PM|
|Texas-El Paso||7:00 PM|
|Oral Roberts||7:30 PM|
|Sam Houston St|
|Alabama A&M||8:00 PM|
|Eastern Mich||8:00 PM|
|UC Riverside||8:00 PM|
|Georgia Tech||8:00 PM|
|Rhode Island||8:00 PM|
|Portland State||8:00 PM|
|Fresno State||8:00 PM|
|Miss State||8:25 PM|
|West Virginia||8:30 PM|
|Boise State||10:30 PM|
|New Mexico St|
|Miss Valley St||68||FINAL|
|(22) Middle Tennessee||69|
|William & Mary||65|
|Montana State||35||2nd Half 11:45|
|Alabama State||24||1st Half 1:32|
|Louisiana Tech||11||1st Half 13:06|
|Southern Ill||7:07 PM|
|Idaho State||7:30 PM|
|Old Dominion||8:30 PM|
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