Written by Minnesota Student Intern Josh Brennock
Instant analysis from Michigan Tech's 5-3 victory tonight.
Last week at Mariucci Arena, the Gophers come out flying. That did not happen tonight on the road. Last week, Minnesota was the team jumping on opponents early. Their 3-0 and 4-0 leads after the opening period left little doubt of the positive outcomes. Tonight, the Gophers trailed the Huskies 3-1 after the opening frame. The hill proved to be to high to climb as an emotionally-charged Michigan Tech team took it to the Gophers propelled by their own fast start.
Minnesota's slow start provided the Gophers with an opportunity to show how they would respond to trailing for the first time this season. The initial response looked promising as Nick Bjugstad found himself wide open in the circle where he cashed in on a great pass from Ben Marshall to cut the Huskies' lead in half. Michigan Tech did not blink however, taking advantage of sloppy marking in the Gophers' zone and Gopher turnovers to chase Minnesota starter Michael Shibrowski and take a 5-2 lead into the break after 40 minutes.
Tech Fired Up
Minnesota head coach Don Lucia knew Michigan Tech posed a threat to the Gophers, and he was right. The John MacInnes Ice Arena was rocking tonight, and the Huskies were ready to go. The crowd provided a great home-ice advantage as the Gopher found out that life on the road is going to be tricky this year. The Huskies feed off the crowd's energy. Michigan Tech forwards aggressively attacked the Gophers defenseman forcing turnovers that led into Huskies' goals.
Offensively, Minnesota struggled to sustain pressure in the attacking zone all night. The chances the Gophers got were mainly one-and-done. Credit Michigan Tech for giving up the body and doing whatever it took to win the physical battles and send the puck out of their zone. Michigan Tech goaltender Phoenix Copley was ready for the challenge of the nation's No. 1 team. He made 28 saves on the night and provided the Huskies with the backbone for their upset victory.
The Gophers were finally able to garner significant zone time towards the end of the 60 minutes. A strong shift along the boards forced the Huskies into taking a penalty. The Gophers converted with nice passing. It led to Travis Boyd being open to pot his second goal of the season. Despite pulling goalie Adam Wilcox for a 6-5 advantage, the Gophers were unable to slide another goal past Copley. The pressure and fight they showed in the closing minutes will hopefully lead to good things in Saturday's rematch.