After 12 consecutive games against a ranked opponent, the No. 2 Gophers got to play unranked Arizona State. In a warm weather setting, no less, outside the arena.
But Minnesota barely won 3-2 over the independent on Friday night in Tempe, Ariz. And the Gophers, in their fourth straight win, were outshot 30-24.
"For two periods, that was as bad as we've played all season and it was almost through our entire lineup," Gophers coach Bob Motzko said. "We made a couple plays early in the game and we hung on. We'll be better tomorrow, that's one thing I do know.""
Goalie Justen Close, who missed the team's sweep of Michigan last weekend because he was ill, was back in the nets and stopped 28 shots and even drew a tripping penalty in the second.
Jaxon Nelson and Bryce Brodzinski gave Minnesota (11-4) a 2-0 lead in the opening period. Nelson scored on a power play halfway through the period, Brodzinski got his goal with 2½ minutes left.
Dylan Jackson scored Arizona State's first goal three minutes into the second.
Freshman Logan Cooley restored Minnesota's two-goal cushion early in the third with an amazing lacrosse-style goal. It was ultimately needed because Ryan Alexander got the Sun Devils within one again at 17:05 of the third.
On Cooley's goal, he got the puck behind the net, skated in front and flung the puck past T.J. Semptimphelter, who stopped 21 shots for ASU (7-7).
Cooley, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2022 NHL draft by the Arizona Coyotes, now has five goals this season and nine assists. His latest was on Nelson's goal in this game.
The Gophers are 8-0 all-time vs. the Sun Devils.