Observations from Minnesota's 3-1 win over Alaska Anchorage

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Alone at the Top
After a tie between Denver and Michigan Tech and a Wisconsin win over Nebraska-Omaha, the Gophers had a chance to claim sole possession of first place with a win over Alaska Anchorage. They did just that, improving to 4-0-0 in the WCHA and 7-1-0 overall, and now lead Michigan Tech (3-2-1 in conference play) by one point heading into next weekend.

Third-ranked Colorado College (2-0-0) is the only other WCHA team with a perfect conference record.

Power Play Denied...
Though the Gophers' top power-play unit of Erik Haula, Nick Bjugstad, Kyle Rau, Jake Hansen, and Nate Schmidt moved the puck well on Saturday and came up with several scoring chances, the nation's No. 1 PP failed to score in a game for the first time on Saturday on three chances. Minnesota is still 8-for-15 (53.3 percent) on the man advantage in WCHA play and is clicking at a 35.9 percent rate (14-for-39) overall.

...But Shorthanded Success
The Gophers killed three of four UAA power plays in their 3-1 sweep-clinching win and ended up outscoring the Seawolves man-advantage on the night.

Nate Condon scored Minnesota's first shorthanded goal of the season 4:03 into the second period on Saturday. Condon, one of the team's top killers, has always been effective at frustrating opponent power plays with his quickness as a part of a four-man box, but this time he used his speed to split two UAA defensemen off a rebound and score the eventual game-winner.

Kyle Rau's long empty net goal secured the 3-1 win with 43 seconds left and came with four seconds left on a penalty kill. The Gophers scored their first two shorthanded goals of 2010-11 in the same series last year, as well, when Erik Haula and Cade Fairchild each tallied a SHG in a road sweep over Colorado College.

There isn't a player in Division I hockey has multiple shorthanded goals so far this season. Minnesota's penalty kill success rate is now at 87.5 percent (35 of 40).

Hot Start
The Gophers have been a fast-starting team this season. Minnesota has scored the first goal of the game in seven of their eight games, leading to seven wins. On Saturday, UM unleashed 20 shots in the first 20 minutes, outshooting Alaska Anchorage 20-4 in the period to take a 1-0 lead into the intermission. The 16-shot advantage in the opening stanza was the most the Gophers have outshot an opponent by in any period this year. The 20-shot period came a night after Minnesota finished the game with 21 total shots on goal against the Seawolves. The Gophers finished the night with 31 shot on target.

Zach Budish: Seawolf Killer
Top-line forward Zach Budish continued his success against Alaska Anchorage this weekend. The redshirt sophomore notched two assists on Friday and opened the scoring on Saturday. Budish now has four goals and five assists in six games against UAA. He did not play in the Gophers' lone win or three losses against Alaska Anchorage last year, missing most of the season due to injury after scoring six points in seven games. Budish is up to nine points (three goals, six assists) on the 2011-12 season through eight games.

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