The Gophers dominated the second period Friday night, but after gaining a one-goal advantage, they could never build on their lead.
It came back to bite them. St. Cloud State senior David Morley set up two third-period goals as part of a three-point night in the No. 7 Huskies' come-from-behind 3-2 victory over the Gophers at Mariucci Arena.
"We need the ability to score that next goal," Gophers coach Don Lucia said. "Where's that third goal?"
The third goal instead came from the Huskies in the third period. Trailing 2-1, Morley fed fellow senior Jimmy Murray for a sharp-angle one-timer that beat Gophers goalie Eric Schierhorn on the power play just 3 minutes, 5 seconds into the third.
Morley, who scored a power-play goal of his own in the first, then saucered a pass across the crease to another senior, Joey Benik, for the eventual game-winner a little more than four minutes later.
"To win big games, you need your power play to score and you need your older players to step up," St. Cloud State coach Bob Motzko said. "That's exactly what happened for us."
Three seniors. Three goals. And the Huskies (10-3) went 2-for-3 with the man-advantage.
"Sometimes with power plays, you have to throw out the percentages," Motzko said.
"A power play has to answer at the right moment to change the momentum of the game."
St. Cloud State's did just that — twice.
And the Gophers (4-6) were left searching for its own answers, and lamenting opportunities lost.
Morley's goal tipped the ice for the Huskies early; they held the Gophers to five shots on goal in the opening 20 minutes.
But the Gophers scored twice in a 1:10 span during a second period in which they outshot the Huskies 14-2. Still, though, the period ended with the Gophers up only 2-1.
"You have to get that third goal," Lucia said. "Then we made a couple mistakes and we paid for it."
A defensive zone turnover resulted in Gophers defenseman Jake Bischoff being whistled for a hold 1:13 into the third, a penalty that led to Murray's tying goal.
And another turnover by the Gophers led to Benik's goal minutes later.
Too many mistakes — that's what Lucia said has plagued the up-and-down Gophers. At 4-6, this is the team's worst start to a season since beginning 2-7-1 in 2003-04.
The Gophers did go on to win the WCHA playoff title and make the NCAA tournament that slow-starting season.
"Losing … I hate it, and I think everyone on our team hates it," Gophers forward Leon Bristedt said.
He scored Minnesota's second goal and assisted on its first, a power-play tally from Bischoff.
There's nothing better than winning, and probably nothing worse than losing," he said.