MINNEAPOLIS — Justin Kloos picked up his first career hat trick including the overtime winner for No. 1 Minnesota as the Gophers topped No. 7 St. Cloud State 4-3 on Saturday night at Mariucci Arena.
The win extends Minnesota’s unbeaten streak at home to 15 games — the longest active streak in the nation — while Kloos’ three-goal showing bests his previous career best of two, set last year against St.
“Tonight was Kloos’ night,” Minnesota head coach Don Lucia said. “Our effort was better tonight, our knees were bent, we went after some pucks. Even if we wouldn’t have won the game tonight, I was much happier with how we played.”
After a scoreless first period, Kloos book-ended a four-goal second period by scoring 12 seconds into the period and adding his second of the night with 12 seconds left in the stanza.
Minnesota (5-1-0 overall, 0-0-0-0 Big Ten) entered the night with the nation’s top power play and didn’t disappoint on Saturday as Kloos converted on the team’s second chance of the game. Kloos, a sophomore who led Minnesota with 16 goals last season as a freshman, made a sliding attempt on a Kyle Rau centering pass to put the Gophers up 1-0 in the second period. Mike Reilly earned the second assist on the goal for his eighth helper of the season — moving him into a tie for first in the nation.
However, the Huskies answered just over six minutes later when Andrew Prochno found the equalizer at 6:27 of the season with an assist to Judd Peterson and took a 2-1 lead at 12:13 with a power-play goal from Ethan Prow — set up by Jimmy Murray and Kalle Kossila.
St. Cloud State looked to be taking a lead into the third period for the second night in a row until Kloos found the equalizer at 19:48 of the second period when Taylor Cammarata and Ben Marshall set up the sophomore forward for his second of the night.
The late sway in momentum carried over into the third period as Connor Reilly slammed home his third of the year at 2:09 to reclaim the lead for Minnesota. Ryan Collins and Seth Ambroz picked up assists on the goal although the lead would only hold until 14:34 of the third when Joey Benik found the back of the net after being set up by David Morley.
Regulation came to pass and the Gophers moved into overtime for the first time this season, however Cammarata would once again set up Kloos, his long-time teammate, at 1:19 for the game-winning goal as Kloos took over the team goal-scoring lead with five on the season.
Adam Wilcox backstopped another strong performance by the Minnesota defense as the team gave up just 14 shots to the Huskies — the fewest allowed by the Gophers since allowing 13 to Alaska Anchorage in 13 in a 7-1 win on Jan. 12, 2013. Wilcox, a junior, made 11 saves to move to 5-1-0 on the season while Charlie Lindgren made 31 saves to move to 3-3-0 on the year.
The Gophers, who tallied 35 shots on the night, ended the game 1-for-4 on the power-play and 2-for-3 on the penalty kill.