The second-ranked University of Minnesota hockey team went into the weekend needing to make up two points on St. Cloud State to tie for the WCHA regular-season title, and the Gophers got both of them Saturday night with a 5-1 win at Bemidji State.
St. Cloud State lost, 3-2, at Wisconsin, and North Dakota — which could have created a three-way tie with a victory — fell, 2-1, at Minnesota State. So the final standings show St. Cloud State at 18-9-1 and Minnesota at 16-7-5, both good for 37 points and a share of the MacNaughton Cup.
This marks the 14th time and the second year in a row the Gophers have won at least a share of the Cup. Minnesota (24-7-5 overall), which will have the WCHA tournament’s second seed, will take on the Beavers (5-16-7, 6-20-8) again in the first round next weekend, this time at home. The best-of-three series will run Friday through Sunday.
After struggling to put away the Beavers in Friday night’s series opener, Minnesota got out to a 2-0 lead Saturday behind first-period goals from Erik Haula and Nick Bjugstad, who scored Friday’s game-winner.
Bemidji State trimmed the lead to 2-1 at 1:55 of the second period on a goal from Matt Prapavessis but never scored again. The Gophers piled on goals from Zach Budish in the second period and Jake Parenteau and Christian Isackson in the third.
The Gophers pounded out 23 goals in the second period alone and outshot the Beavers 40-24 on the night.