Tonight’s matchup between the Golden Gophers and the Huskies would be their final matchup for a couple of months. After the Gophers win 6-4 last evening, Minnesota had nothing to lose by going out and getting the win. The goaltender matchup consisted of the Gophers sending Kent Patterson and Michigan Tech sending Kevin Genoe between the pipes.
The Golden Gophers, akin to last night’s quick start, got the jump on Michigan Tech once again as Mike Hoeffel netted an even strength goal giving Minnesota a 1-0 lead at 3:09. Erik Haula and Aaron Ness were credited with assisting Hoeffel on the goal. Into the second quarter of the period, a total of twelve shots were fired off (six for each squad) and both teams were without a penalty for the first few minutes of the contest. Milos Gordic would draw the first penalty of the contest at over fifteen minutes in, when he went to the sin bin at 15:02 for elbowing. That penalty ended a free-flowing period of time for both teams, who were taking shots at a frenetic pace. That penalty also gave Minnesota a power play to start the game. To the 15:02 mark, Minnesota was outshooting Michigan Tech 12-8, but each team was playing hard even after a ten goal night last night. The power play for Minnesota didn’t pan out, but a scuffle broke out inside of two minutes left in the period as three players were involved. Penalties handed out at 18:11 included Minnesota’s Kevin Wehrs for roughing, and Justin Holl for hooking, as well as Michigan Tech’s Aaron Pietilla for roughing. At the end of the first period, Minnesota was 0-1 on the power play and Michigan Tech’s only power play would extend into the second period by eleven seconds. Shots went 12-10 to Minnesota’s favor after the first twenty minutes.
To start the second period, Michigan Tech couldn’t finish off their four-on-three advantage with scoring a goal. Minnesota’s Seth Helgeson would set the Gophers back at 2:00 when he took a foolish boarding penalty which led to a Michigan Tech goal. At 2:08 on the power play, MTU’s Deron Cousens took the puck all alone and put it home to tie the game at one apiece. Minnesota’s Nate Condon would answer Tech’s goal with a twine-twister of his own at 2:53 on even strength and Condon’s goal was unassisted. To those of you math majors out there, the time between Michigan Tech’s first and Minnesota’s second goal was a quick forty-five seconds. Just wait, there’d be more scoring. Minnesota’s Mike Hoeffel scored goal number two on the night at 5:35 of the second period on even strength when he potted a pass from Minnetonka’s Justin Holl to put the Gophers up 3-1 early in the second period. Keep in mind that to the point of Hoeffel’s second marker, the two squads had launched nine total shots in the period. Meaning? Defense was a problem for the Huskies. The action would settle down in the second part of the period and Michigan Tech would go back to attempting to chase the Gophers. Much like in the first period, Minnesota was outshooting Michigan Tech as we passed the midway point of the period. The teams skated hard in the final half of period number two, but at the end of forty minutes played, Minnesota was outshooting Michigan Tech 26-21 (14-11 in the second) and there were only three total power plays on the game (Michigan Tech went 1-2 in the period with Minnesota lacking an attempt). At the end of the period, coincidental penalties to Minnesota’s Jacob Cepis and Michigan Tech’s Steven Seigo for roughing.
The third period started off with Michigan Tech taking the first two shots, and the four on four exchange produced no scoring plays for the Huskies, and Minnesota’s Kent Patterson had twenty-two saves through forty-two minutes. At 6:31, Michigan Tech’s Bryce Reddick took a hooking minor giving Minnesota their second power play and putting Michigan Tech further in the “box” (no pun intended) where it would be difficult to catch Minnesota. Fifty-nine seconds into Minnesota’s power play, Jake Hansen spoiled it when he took an interference call at 7:30, which would ultimately give the Huskies a power play of sixty-one seconds in length. Minnesota couldn’t score in four on four time but their penalty kill proved to be up to the task, giving goaltender Kent Patterson something to smile about. To the 9:30 point in the third period, Michigan Tech actually would outshoot the Gophers 4-2, but that would be a very small victory on a night where Minnesota played inspired hockey for four-fifths of the game. Down the stretch, Minnesota managed to play hockey at a level where both teams traded possessions but were unable to make anything work. The final goal of the night was scored at 19:59 when Nick Bjugstad scored his first goal of the season (and career) on an empty net play. The lone assist went to Jacob Cepis and that ended and completed a Golden Gopher sweep of the weekend. Shots in the third period went ten apiece for Minnesota winning the shot column overall 36-31. Minnesota finished 0-2 on the power play and Michigan Tech went 1-3.
Minneapolis is one of the two host sites for the College Hockey Showcase next weekend (the other being Madison, WI), and Michigan State comes to town on Friday evening and the Michigan Wolverines play an afternoon matinee with the Gophers. Friday’s game is scheduled for 7pm on FS North and Sunday’s 4:30pm start is on the Big Ten Network.
Until next time, I’ll see you at the rink!