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SIOUX FALLS – Fittingly, the farm kid from southwestern Minnesota kept the Gophers hockey season alive on the South Dakota prairie.

Jaxon Nelson, a senior center from 40 miles away in Magnolia, Minn., scored the tying goal midway through the third period and netted the winner with 4:13 to play as the Gophers rallied to defeat Nebraska Omaha 3-2 on Thursday night in the second semifinal of the NCAA Sioux Falls Regional.

The Gophers (23-10-5) will face top-seeded Boston University (27-9-2), which beat Rochester Institute of Technology 6-3 in the first semifinal at the Denny Sanford Premier Center.

"You're asking about BU; ask me tomorrow," Gophers coach Bob Motzko said. "I want to enjoy this one and watch film. ... We're just darn happy we're playing Saturday."

On the winning goal, the Gophers pounced on a turnover by the Mavericks in their defensive zone. Bryce Brodzinski fed a pass to the slot that Nelson tipped past UNO goalie Simon Latkoczy.

Earlier in the third, Brodzinski fed Nelson from behind the net, and Nelson beat the goalie to tie it 2-2. Those two have been Gophers teammates for five seasons.

"Playing together all the time, you build that special connection through the years," Nelson said in a postgame radio interview.

The Gophers withstood a late flurry with the Mavericks pulling Latkoczy for an extra attacker. Minnesota goalie Justen Close made 34 saves for the win, including a clutch stop with 10 seconds left.

"Justen Close was just outstanding tonight," Motzko said, noting the seven minutes his team spent shorthanded in the first half of the game. "Right after the penalty kill, we started to play."

The Gophers fell behind twice but rallied both times before finally taking a lead on Nelson's second goal. Scoreless since November, freshman Jimmy Clark scored Minnesota's first goal with 1:59 remaining in the second period.

"I had to sit Nellie a little bit after all the [penalty minutes], and Jimmy goes out there and buries one," Motzko said in a postgame radio interview. "We're going to see a lot of those in the future [from Clark], too."

A key moment came with 55 seconds left in the first, when Gophers defenseman Ryan Chesley was called for elbowing Jack Randl during an open-ice hit, as Randl skated toward the Gophers net with his head down. UNO coach Mike Gabinet challenged the call for a major penalty for head contact, and after a review, officials gave Chesley a five-minute major.

BOXSCORE: Gophers 3, Nebraska Omaha 2

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The Gophers got out of the first period tied 0-0 and had 4:05 left on Chesley's major to start the second. Joaquim Lemay made sure Minnesota didn't emerge unscathed. His shot through traffic on beat Close for a power-play goal and 1-0 lead at 1:51 of the second.

Minnesota limited the damage, killing off the rest of the penalty as Close made six saves. He also was called upon to make three more saves shortly after the penalty expired as the Mavericks built a 19-5 advantage in shots on goal.

Finally, the Gophers tied it 1-1 late in the second. Connor Kurth stole the puck at the Mavericks blue line and fed Clark, who patiently waited and found his spot to beat Latkoczy. By the end of the second, the Gophers had a 26-25 edge in shots on goal.

Nebraska Omaha took a 2-1 lead at 4:28 of the third when Randl fed Mueller with a cross-crease pass. Minnesota responded for a 2-2 tie at 9:15 when Nelson took a pass from Brodzinski and beat Latkoczy.

Kurth credited the energy from Gophers fans, who made their presence felt inside the 10,600-seat arena.

"We knew our fans would travel," Kurth said. "We saw it last year with Fargo [for the regionals] and Tampa [for the Frozen Four]. The spark they give is something you can't find elsewhere, and we're just so fortunate."