The Minnesota Golden Gophers may still be winless in their last five games against St. Cloud State. But they made their case for keeping the No. 1 ranking after rallying to tie the second-ranked Huskies 2-2 on Saturday.
St. Cloud State held the No. 1 spot just a few weeks ago, but the Gophers took over the top spot after the Huskies lost 4-3 to Colorado College on Nov. 10.
"Everyone talked in the locker room, and we came to the conclusion that this was our season," said Minnesota's Grant Potulny, whose team trailed 2-0 heading into the third period.
"It's kind of our motto: If we want to win the league, we can't get swept. Coming back from 2-0, we're happy with the tie," he said.
In other WCHA action Saturday, Denver beat Minnesota-Duluth 3-1, Colorado College defeated Michigan Tech 3-1 and Minnesota State, Mankato blanked North Dakota 6-0. Wisconsin battled Alaska Anchorage to a 3-3 tie.
In St. Cloud, the Gophers (11-1-3, 5-1-2 WCHA) fell behind late in the second period when the Huskies (12-1-1, 10-1-1) scored a pair of special teams goals by Nate DiCasmirro and Jon Cullen.
But Minnesota rallied on goals by Barry Tallackson and Grant Potulny in the third. Minnesota appeared to have won the game early in overtime when Johnny Pohl redirected a Tallackson pass into the net. But officials ruled no goal, saying Pohl kicked the puck in.
Still, the Gophers were happy to end their four-game losing streak to the Huskies and avoid a series sweep.
"We didn't have a lot of energy tonight. You could see that," said Minnesota coach Don Lucia. "I felt once we got a goal the energy level might pick up, but I wasn't real confident going into the third because we couldn't seem to muster much offense."
Minnesota goalie Adam Hauser stopped a career high 45 shots.
"If we had any doubt about ourselves, we can erase it now," Hauser said. "We got a point in a tough place to play."
The Gophers travel this weekend to Colorado where they'll face a Denver team that swept Minnesota-Duluth with a 3-1 win on Saturday.
The Pioneers (11-1-0, 8-0-0) were led by Ryan Caldwell, who had one goal and an assist. Luke Fulghum and Connor James also had goals for Denver, which held on to second place in WCHA standings.
"We started out slow this season, we weren't getting any points, and sometimes you think the points will never come," said Denver center Chris Paradise. "But now, if we got two or three lines going it's going to be tough to beat us."
Tyler Brosz scored the Bulldog's only goal early in the first period.
The Bulldogs (0-9-1) have now lost nine straight games and are winless in the last 10. Their last WCHA win was over Minnesota 5-4 in overtime on Feb. 23. The losing streak is UMD's longest since 1976-77.
In Houghton, Mich., Jeff Sanger had 27 saves for Colorado College, sealing a 3-1 win over Michigan Tech.
Trent Clark, Alex Kim and Peter Sejna all had goals for the Tigers (8-5-1, 4-5-1).
The Huskies' Colin Murphy scored the lone goal for Michigan Tech (4-8-2, 1-7-2) in the first quarter. Colorado outshot Michigan Tech 32-28 overall.
Cam Ellsworth had 29 saves for the Huskies.
Colorado College will host St. Cloud State this weekend.
In Grand Forks, N.D., Jason Jensen made 30 saves to lead Minnesota State-Mankato to a 6-0 victory over North Dakota.
It was the first series sweep on the Sioux's home ice since 1996. The Mavericks beat the Sioux 6-4 Friday night. It was also the first time UND was shut out at home since March 13, 1982.
Mankato (7-7-1, 4-5-1) scored on its first two shots in the game. The second goal came when Cole Bassett flipped the puck from the Mavericks' blue line.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.