The seventh-ranked Minnesota men's hockey team scored in the game's first minute and didn't look back for its 20th win of the season, blanking in-state rival Bemidji State 3-0 at Mariucci Arena on Friday night. Redshirt sophomore Zach Budish notched two first-period goals and senior goaltender Kent Patterson made 13 saves for his seventh shutout of the season.
For the second straight game, the Gophers got on the board in the first 60 seconds when Budish redirected a blast from the blueline by Mark Alt. It was Budish's ninth goal of the season.
Budish struck again 8:13 later, banging home a Nick Bjugstad rebound after Bjugstad drove hard to the net and forced Beaver netminder Dan Bakala out of position with a shot attempt.
Patterson, who faced his first shot of the night at the 11:35 mark of the opening frame, was tested later in the period with BSU's only other shot in the opening 20 minutes.
With 2:12 left, Bemidji State freshman Tyler Tosunian fed senior Darcy Findlay with a backdoor pass on a two-on-one, but Patterson sprawled across the crease to shut the door with a left-pad save.
Just over six minutes into the middle stanza, Budish drew a boarding penalty on BSU's Aaron MacLeod, giving the Gophers their second man advantage of the night.
On the power play, Minnesota padded its lead with a tic-tac-toe goal finished by Bjugstad. Erik Haula found freshman Kyle Rau camped out at the side of the side of the net to Bakala's left and Rau quickly moved the puck to Bjugstad, who went top-shelf for his 22nd goal of the season.
With 5:37 left in the period, Bemidji State got its last quality scoring chance of the night when Brance Orban was sprung on a breakaway, but Patterson met the Beaver junior at the left faceoff circle with a diving challenge. Orban was unable to get a shot off and Patterson covered the puck.
BSU came up empty on its four shots on goal in the final frame, allowing Patterson to add to his single-season school record for shutouts. It was Patterson's first shutout since Nov. 19 when he stopped 30 shots in a 5-0 win over St. Cloud State.
The Gophers improved to 9-1-1 all-time against Bemidji State and blanked the Beavers for the first time. As was the case entering the night, Minnesota still holds a one-point lead over Minnesota-Duluth for first place in the WCHA standings.
The two teams will meet again tomorrow night to wrap up their two-game series. The Gophers will visit Nebraska-Omaha next weekend before concluding the regular season at home against Wisconsin the following week.