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Pregame scouting report, Mittlestadt's two goals propel Gophers past Terriers and into championship game

Freshman defenseman scores twice in the third period to help Minnesota to a 6-2 win over Boston University

2023 Frozen Four Semifinal - Boston University vs. Minnesota
Minnesota forward Rhett Pitlick took the puck hard to the net only to be thwarted by Boston University goalie Drew Commesso in their Frozen Four semifinal game at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Fla., on Thursday, April 6, 2023.
Jim Rosvold / Special to The Rink Live

TAMPA, Fla. β€” The University of Minnesota men's hockey team's coaching staff saw something in game video of Boston University that ended up playing a big role in the NCAA Division I semifinals on Thursday at Amalie Arena.

Luke Mittlestadt scored two goals in a span of 1:49 of the third period to help lead the Gophers to a 6-2 win over Boston University in the semifinals on Thursday at Amalie Arena. Minnesota (29-9-1) will play the winner of Quinnipiac (32-4-3) and Michigan (26-11-3) for the national title at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Serratore and The Rink Live's Jess Myers talk about the power-play unit and the high-end talent the Gophers deploy

Mittlestadt, a freshman defenseman from Eden Prairie, Minnesota, had three goals on the season going into the game. He scored twice from the same area in the third period for the game-winning goal and the fourth goal.

Mittlestadt scored his first goal at 1:40 on the power play from near the top of the circle to make it 3-2. Then at 3:29, he blasted in a slap shot to make it 4-2.

The Gophers added two empty-net goals by freshman center Logan Cooley to put the game away.
The goals scored from that spot by Mittlestadt were not by accident.

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"They collapse to the middle and they're there to block shots," Gophers coach Bob Motzko said of the Terriers. "We didn't want to miss the net. We didn't want to get shots blocked.

"We kind of failed on the one, missing the net too many times," Motzko said. "But we felt that was something we could do: chuck some pucks in from the side angle. You've got to be careful. (The Terriers) are dangerous at their transition game out of their defensive zone. It's one of their great, great strengths. Our guys did a really good job with that tonight: stopping their transition out of their zone."

The game turned on the Gophers capitalizing from those Mittlestadt shots from near the top fo the faceoff circle to the right of BU goalie Drew Commesso.

"We had guys in front of the net all night and you just keep firing the puck and good things will happen," Mittlestadt said. "I think (defenseman) Mike (Koster) gave me that first one and (Aaron Huglen) set up a great screen and I don't think the goalie saw it for a second. All I had to do was put it in that right side and fortunate enough, I did.

"On that second one, (defenseman Ryan Chesley) gave me a great pass and it was kind of the same thing. Screen out in front and I was fortunate enough to put it in."

And Motzko pointed out that the shots that Mittlestadt scored on did not flutter in.

"Luke nailed both shots. Big-time shots, "Motzko said. "We want to shoot every chance we get."

The game was tied 2-2 going into the third period.

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The Terriers tied the game with a power-play goal at 8:06 of the second period. Senior center Jay O'Brien tipped in a shot by senior defenseman Domenick Fensore to make it 2-2.

The Gophers led 2-1 going into the second period behind two power-play goals.

Junior defenseman Mike Koster's shot from near the top of a faceoff circle went through a good screen out front and past Drew Commesso at 15:09 to tie the game 1-1.

The Gophers took the lead on a pretty passing play. Minnesota moved the puck around and got the puck down low to sophomore center Aaron Huglen. Huglen made a between-the-legs, backhand pass through the low slot to sophomore wing Rhett Pitlick, who snapped it in for a 2-1 lead.

"Rhett sent me a Sidney Crosby kind of play (on video) earlier this afternoon," Huglen said. "I said, 'Yeah, we could try that or break to the net. He broke to the net and I found him."

The goal came after a TV time out.

"Rhett is a video guy and he's got clips from everything," Motzko said. "He probably called it. Great call by Pitter to make that happen."

That successful pass also helped open up the passing lane to where Mittlestadt scored his goals from. And Motzko

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Minnesota dominated a lot of the puck possession and play in the first period, but Boston University took the first lead of the game. Senior fourth-line center Sam Stevens knocked in a rebound off a shot by senior defenseman Domenick Fensore at 10:38.

Minnesota is looking for its sixth national title.

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Minnesota 6, Boston University 2

Boston U. 1-1-0β€”2
Minnesota 2-0-4β€”6

First period scoring β€” 1. BU, Sam Stevens 8 (Domenick Fensore 21, Jamie Armstrong 8) 10:38; 2. UM, Mike Koster 6 (Logan Cooley 38, Jaxon Nelson 17) 15:09 (pp); 3. UM, Rhett Pitlick 11 (Aaron Huglen 9, Luke Mittlestadt 16) 15:59 (pp). Penalties β€” BU, Luke Tuch (cross-checking) 5:51; UM, Logan Cooley (tripping) 11:49; BU, Jay O'Brien (elbowing) 13:49; BU, Tuch (interference) 15:51; UM, Jimmy Snuggerud (interference) 16:32.

Second period scoring β€” 4. BU, Jay O'Brien 8 (Fensore 22, Matt Brown 31) 8:06 (pp). Penalties β€” UM, Ryan Johnson (slashing) 7:10; BU, Lane Hutson (tripping) 17:55; BU, Ty Gallagher (tripping) 19:00; BU, Cade Webber (charging) 20:00.

Third period scoring β€” 5. UM, Luke Mittlestadt 4 (Koster 23, Bryce Brodzinski 12) 1:40 (pp); 6. UM, Mittlestadt 5 (Ryan Chesley 8, Huglen 10) 3:29; 7. UM, Cooley 21 (unassisted) 17:19 (en); 8 UM, Cooley 22 (Matthew Knies 21, Brock Faber 22) 18:17 (en). Penalties β€” BU, Ty Gallagher (hooking) 13:27.

Goalie saves β€” BU, Drew Commesso 11-9-8β€”28 (4 GA). UM, Justen Close 6-9-14β€”29 (2 GA).

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Penalties-minutes β€” BU 7-14; UM 3-6.

Power-play goals, opportunities (shots) β€” BU 1-3; M 3-7.

Faceoffs β€” BU 42-30

Referees β€” Cameron Lynch, Chris Pitoscia.

Linesemen β€” Ryan Knapp, Stepen Drain

Attendance β€” 19,119

GophersBU2.jpg
Minnesota's Mason Nevers (18) tries to score against Boston University goaltender Drew Commesso in the first period during their Frozen Four semifinal game on Thursday, April 6, 2023 at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Fla.
Jim Rosvold / Special to The Rink Live

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Mick Hatten is a reporter and editor for Forum News Service and helps manage TheRinkLive.com, a website dedicated to hockey. He began working for Forum Communications in November 2018 and has covered St. Cloud State University hockey since 2010. A graduate of St. Cloud State, he has more than 30 years of experience as a journalist and has been a youth hockey coach since 2014. mhatten@forumcomm.com

For more coverage of St. Cloud and the surrounding communities, check out St. Cloud Live.
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