Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 1/26/13
MINNEAPOLIS Heading into last weekend, the Minnesota Gophers hockey team had earned the No. 1 ranking in the country based on impressive wins against Boston College (then ranked No. 1) and Notre Dame (No. 2 at the time) but wasn't even leading its own conference. In its final season in the WCHA, Minnesota didn't take the lead in the conference until last Friday's win against North Dakota and then held onto a share of first place after a tie on Saturday night. In all, seven teams were within three points of the lead in the WCHA, with the Gophers and St. Cloud tied at the top with 22 points. Losses such as Friday night at home to Minnesota Stateshouldn't come as a shock to followers of the WCHA. But losses like Minnesota's 2-1 loss also become tougher to withstand. Minnesota State's Brett Knowles scored with 44 seconds left to give the Mavericks (16-8-3, 10-8-1 WCHA) a 2-1 road win against the Gophers on Friday and pushed top-ranked Minnesota (17-4-4, 9-4-4) into second place and snapped the Gophers' unbeaten streak at 10 games. "Everybody you play is a good team and there's very little separation between anybody," Minnesota coach Don Lucia said. "You've got to make plays at critical points in the game and we didn't make enough plays tonight to win." With St. Cloud State beating North Dakota on Friday, the Huskies now lead the conference with 24 points. The Gophers and Nebraska Omaha are tied with 22 points and Minnesota State is third with 21 points. Minnesota and theMavericks finish a home-and-home series Saturday in Mankato. Nate Schmidt scored his fifth goal of the season for the Gophers. Freshman goaltender Adam Wilcox finished with 31 saves. However, Minnesota couldn't solve Minnesota State goaltender Stephon Williams, who had 37 saves, including 20 in the third period. "We were playing a little bit on our heels and Minnesota obviously showed tonight why they're No. 1 in the country," Mavericks coach Mike Hastings said. "They put the foot to the floor and came after us in the third period. We handled it OK." Minnesota State handled it because Williams wasn't giving in to Minnesota's high-scoring offense. The Gophers owns the nation's top scoring offense and are fourth in the country on the power play. But Minnesota has converted one of its last 10 power-play chances and was 0 of 2 on Friday. Lucia agreed when told the power play looked a bit disorganized Friday. "It looked a lot of disorganized tonight," Lucia said. "It was not very good and it needs to be a whole lot better tomorrow. That was a key part of the game. They scored on the power play, one, and we didn't." The Gophers know very well they haven't converted on the power play lately and Schmidt said the players are pressing, even though they are still converting 24.1 percent of their chances for the season (28 of 116). "We're having a tough time getting into a zone and that falls on me," Schmidt said. "We're kind of struggling, teams are throwing different looks at us. It's killing us a little bit. Everything's a little bit harder, everyone's getting a little tense and we know that stat (1 of 10) actually." Schmidt says the offense needs to be better to support Wilcox. "We've been asking a lot out of a freshman goaltender," Schmidt said. "It's not like we have a senior goaltender, a lot of experience back there. He's been playing really well back there for us and we've been leaning on him a little too much and it's time for us to start pulling our own weight." Knowles scored with 44 seconds left after Wilcox let a rebound bounce out to Knowles in front of an open right side of the net. "I think the way both goalies were playing that's the kind of way it looked," Lucia said of the game-winning goal likely coming down to a rebound. "It probably wasn't going to be a clean shot." Like Friday's game, the WCHA is tight and one play can sway a game and the conference. "There's no weekends off in the WCHA," Schmidt said. "With how good the league is this year, a team like Mankato is going to come in here; if we have a lackluster first period that's what happens." Follow Brian Hall on Twitter.
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Brian Cashman defends A-Rod despite season's struggles

Report: Charles’ workload won’t be limited if healthy

Report: Westbrook doesn’t want trade, will think about extension

Chargers don’t know if Joey Bosa will report to camp

Report: RG3 to be given four out of five first-team reps


Report: Peterson likely entering last season with Vikings

Cubs trade for Chapman a risk, but potential payoff too hard to ignore

Wisconsin kicker will wear 27 to honor Nebraska's Sam Foltz

Dennis Schroder wears disguise to play in German streetball tournament

Browns indicate they will give Josh Gordon another chance

Prince Fielder to undergo season-ending neck surgery

Kobe Bryant called ‘a–hole’ in LeBron James-produced show

Top five storylines heading into MLB trade deadline

Angels listening to offers on Hector Santiago

Chris Sale’s so-called ‘apology’ was anything but

Ten hottest golfers heading into 2016 PGA Championship

Five NFL sophomores poised to break out in 2016

Tre Mason's family concerned about RB's mental health?

Dion Waiters' deal signals the end of the 2016 money grab

Tom Jackson could leave ESPN after almost three decades

Cavs sign coach Tyronn Lue to a five-year extension

More than 10,000 people registered for Jaguars Pokemon Go night

NFL issues new concussion protocol

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

WATCH: What teams should join the Big 12?

One Gotta Go: Do NBA players really love NBA2K?

Effect of ban on Russia could span beyond the Olympic Games

One Gotta Go: NBA players hate Facebook too

QUIZ: Name every city to host the NBA All-Star Game

One Gotta Go: NBA players settle the fast food beef

One Gotta Go: NBA players make tough choices on their favorite rappers

One Gotta Go: NBA Summer League is not about that Game of Thrones life

The top NHL free agents available as offseason winds down

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker