MINNEAPOLIS - Behind a hat-trick performance by sophomore Christian Isackson, the Minnesota men's hockey team opened the 2012-13 season with a 7-0 exhibition win over Lethbridge on Saturday night at Mariucci Arena.
Isackson, who was held scoreless in 11 games as a freshman last year, made up for lost time with the natural hat trick - notching all three tallies within the game's first 22 minutes. The Pine City, Minn., native found the back of the net twice during a five-minute power play for the Gophers at 6:02 and 8:30 of the first period, respectively, to give Minnesota a 2-0 lead after the first period. Both goals were set up by sophomores Travis Boyd and Ben Marshall. Isackson would strike quickly in thesecond period to finish the job after being set up with an even-strength goal by junior Nick Bjugstad and senior Seth Helgeson at 1:08.
Sophomore Sam Warning picked up right where Isackson left off, scoring 25 seconds later at 1:33 of the second period after being set up by redshirt junior Zach Budish and junior Erik Haula. Junior defenseman Mark Alt would cap a three-goal third period at 6:29 of the second with assists from freshman Mike Reilly and sophomore Seth Ambroz.
Minnesota, which outshot the Pronghorns 65-16 overall and 48-10 in the final 40 minutes, would add two more in the third - this time with both Marshall and Ambroz adding goals to their earlier assists. Marshall's even -strength goal (assists from Warning and Haula) at 5:22 of the third would round out a three-point night for the Detroit Red Wings' draft pick while Ambroz's power-play tally at 14:31 (Condon and M. Reilly) would close out the night's scoring and put the Gophers' power-play unit at 3-for-8 on the night.
Junior Michael Shibrowski and freshman Adam Wilcox combined for a shutout with Shibrowski earning the starting nod on Saturday night. The junior turned away all nine shots faced in the game's first 29:30 before turning the game over the Wilcox. The rookie netminder would maintain the clean sheet with seven saves against Lethbridge.
Minnesota opens the 2012-13 regular season at Mariucci Arena next weekend against Michigan State. The Gophers open the series with a 6 p.m. battle against the Spartans on Friday before closing out the nonconference affair on Saturday at 8 p.m.