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Gophers' Logan Cooley redeems himself with eventual game-winner against SCSU

Following his slashing penalty, the freshman forward took a stretch pass and housed it for the eventual game-winner.

Minnesota's Logan Cooley fires a shot past St. Cloud State goalie Jaxon Castor during the NCAA Fargo Regional championship game on Saturday, March 25, 2023, at Scheels Arena.
David Samson / The Forum

FARGO — As forward Jackson LaCombe and goaltender Justen Close left the interview room inside Scheels Arena after their team dismantled St. Cloud State 4-1 on Saturday night for a berth in the Frozen Four, Minnesota head coach Bob Motzko used the break to inject something his players didn’t mention.

“So we had a half-hour practice yesterday and all we worked on was stretch passes up the middle,” Motzko said, drawing some laughter. “You asked them and they act like it came out of nowhere.”

But it was a stretch pass that stretched the Gophers’ season at least another two weeks. His Gophers face Boston University in Tampa on April 6. A LaCombe pass from his own right circle hit the tape of Logan Cooley at the far blue line, and the freshman scored to break a 1-1 tie and got back in good graces with his head coach.

Minnesota head coach Bob Motzko, left, with Jackson LaCombe and Justen Close, following the 4-1 win over St. Cloud State on March 25, 2023 at Scheels Arena in Fargo.
Rob Beer / The Rink Live

Cooley was called for slashing when he knocked down St. Cloud State’s Jami Kranilla following a faceoff on the center ice dot at 16:46 in the second period.

“He saw me glaring at him over there,” Motzko said.


For good reason. Motzko already saw three straight Gophers head to the penalty box and Cooley’s slash was the team’s fourth infraction.

Minnesota's Logan Cooley celebrates his second period goal against St. Cloud State'during the NCAA Fargo Regional championship game on Thursday, March 23, 2023, at Scheels Arena.
David Samson/The Forum

“You don’t want to take any penalties like that in a tight game,” Cooley said. ”I definitely knew I needed to do something for my bad mistake that I just made. Jackson made a great pass and it was definitely good to see that go in.”

When Cooley jumped out of the box, he had a chance with linemate Matthew Knies on a give-and-go but could only muster a backhand shot that Huskies goaltender Jaxon Castor easily gloved.

Later on Cooley's shift, with St. Cloud State’s Grant Cruikshank trying to hold the zone, his shot from the left point was intercepted by LaCombe, who quickly found Cooley streaking up the ice.

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“The play just kind of opened up there and obviously Cools has some blazing speed so he was just taking off and I just threw it up there and he made a great play to finish it up,” LaCombe said.

Cooley beat Castor with a quick shot that stayed along the ice to make it 2-1 Gophers. It was the eventual game-winner.

“He’s good up high and I knew I had to shoot it low too,” Cooley said. “It was clean ice, too, so when it’s clean ice, five-hole is a good spot to shoot. It’s a move I’ve been doing for quite a while now and its been working so I’m gonna stay with it.”

Cooley gave all the props to LaCombe for finding him up the middle.


“I mean he’s made that play to me like three times this year,” Cooley said. “Obviously Jackson’s such a good player and it was tough to find ice, especially against a team like St. Cloud and luckily I found some and I wasn’t going to miss that one.”

The lead proved to be insurmountable for the Huskies and killed their momentum.

“We were getting it going,” St. Cloud State head coach Brett Larson said. “We just threw one on the net and usually those get you off the ice a little bit and it just landed right on their D’s tape and Cooley read it. It was a bang-bang play and led to a breakaway. It’s tough when you put one of the best players in college hockey on a breakaway.”

Both Knies (interference) and Cooley’s penalties in the second period didn’t factor on the scoresheet, but certainly Motzko made a point to bring it up to his freshman, who redeemed himself.

“He and I have talked about that,” Motzko said. “No, it wasn’t a good penalty, but I would much rather put a fire out than to start one, and boy, I love his compete level and his battle level. And next year he’s even going to take a bigger step with us, too.”

Rob Beer is the digital content manager for Forum Communications. A journalist with Forum Communications since 1991, he is the editor of The Rink Live and helps cover the CCHA. He also assists with other content produced by Forum Communications.
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