The Gophers defeated the Pioneers 5-1 tonight.
Just a night after getting shutout for the first time in nearly two years, the Gophers responded by scoring five goals in defeating the Denver Pioneers. The win means Minnesota has not lost a weekend series all year. The win also ended a three-game losing streak to the Pioneers. The offense came alive in the third period. Nick Bjugstad's power-play goal kicked off a four-goal rush for the Gophers in the final frame. Adam Wilcox wrapped up a spectacular weekend by making 31 saves in net.
Second Period Ignites the Crowd
Despite 15 shots in the first period, the Gophers trailed by a goal heading into the second period. Zach Budish scored the equalizer for Minnesota 9:03 into the second period. The goal was of the greasy variety. Zach continued to whack at the puck on the edge of the crease while skaters from both sides and Denver goalie Sam Brittain were sprawled out on the ice. Zach was finally able to push the puck over the line. In the closing moments of the period, both teams had great chances to take the lead. Kyle Rau broke in all alone, but was denied by Brittain. At the other end of the ice, Wilcox made multiple 10-bell saves on breakaways. With all the action on the ice, the crowd reached a decibel level normally reserved for North Dakota games.
Power Back On Just In Time
Minnesota came into the weekend with the best power play in the country. However, last night the power play went dark. In five tries, the Gophers generated very little offense and gave up top-notch opportunities with the extra skater. Tonight, they converted only once in four opportunities, but It came at a critical time. Erik Haula set Nick Bjugstad up on a tee to blast home what would be the game-winning goal from the left circle 9:52 into the period. Power play success will be critical to the Gophers this postseason.
Third Period Worth the Wait
Minnesota generated just 10 shots in the third period, but four of them found the back of the net. Goals from Bjugstad, Holl, Warning, and an empty-netter from Budish made the final score look rather comfortable. Holl scored his second goal of the season. Warning showed great effort and speed all night. He ended the night with a +2 rating and two points. He also hit the pipe on another scoring chance. Erik Haula also had a strong night, posting three assists to earn the number-one star.
Seth Helgeson played his last regular-season game for the Maroon & Gold at Mariucci Arena tonight. There was a ceremony to honor Helgeson, the team's only senior, before the game. He collected an assist on Zach Budish's second goal tonight. In his four years in Minneapolis, Helgeson was rarely found on the score sheet, but his impact is certaintly felt by his teammates. Seth is admired for his toughness and character off the ice. Coach Lucia said earlier this week, "When you do not notice him, he is at his best." His point tonight was an added bonus. Helgeson has played in 144 games to this point for the Gophers.
Written By Minnesota Communications Intern Josh Brennock