Here are some thoughts from the Gophers' 4-1 victory over Minnesota State.
Gophers Win in Mankato
The Gophers bounced back from yesterday's disappointing 2-1 lost to claim a 4-1 victory in Mankato. The Gophers have not lost a WCHA weekend since last February at Denver. Minnesota had more energy in the early stages of tonight's game, blocked shots, and got a boost from first-period goals by Justin Hull and Nate Schmidt and a 26-save effort by Adam Wilcox.
Much Better Start
On Friday night, Minnesota looked sluggish and failed to use the hometown crowd to their advantage early in the contest. Saturday, on the road, the early effort was there. The Gophers took the crowd out of the game and aggressively attacked the Mavericks in the first period with solid fore-checking. The Gophers registered just eight shots on goal in the first period Friday. Tonight, they had 13. The late power-play goal by Nate Schmidt capped off a road period the Gophers could take pride in.
Holl Has One
Justin Holl scored his first goal of the season with a spectacular individual effort, turning over a puck and finishing on a breakaway. In fact, it was Holl's first goal in 42 games. The goal was especially important to the Gophers because it gave them an early lead on the road. Before this season, Holl was an everyday defenseman for Minnesota. He has done a great job transitioning to a forward role in 2012-13. He was one of the most noticeable Gophers on Friday night and continued to make his presence felt on Saturday, creating multiple grade A scoring chances with his speed.
The Captain Comes Through
When a team has a disappointing loss like the Gophers did Friday night, the captain has extra responsibility to help the team positively respond. Gopher captain Zach Budish did just that. He had a goal and an assist tonight. His goal gave the Gophers breathing room in the third period. He was one of three Gophers, (Rau and Haula) to have multiple points in the game. Tonight's performance comes after a three-point weekend against North Dakota.
Mavericks Have Impressed This Season
Minnesota State played step for step with the Gophers in all four meetings this season. Tonight was the last WCHA regular season meeting between Minnesota and Minnesota State. However, the teams will continue to play next year as non-conference opponents. The Mavericks are tentatively scheduled to visit Mariucci for a pair of games next season. The season series ended split, 2-2.
Written by Minnesota Communications Intern Josh Brennock