For the second consecutive year, the Minnesota men’s hockey team took care of business in its season-opening series. The 19th-ranked Gophers, who downed Massachusetts 5-3 and 5-4 to begin 2010-11, polished off their second straight win over Sacred Heart on Saturday night, defeating the Pioneers 6-0 at Mariucci Arena. Just as he did on Friday, UM goaltender Kent Patterson pitched a 20-save shutout.
After falling behind 15-1 in the shot department early in its first game of the season, Sacred Heart jumped on Minnesota early, but could not solve Patterson to take the lead.
Midway through the opening period, the Gophers began to put pressure on SHU and at the 12:12 mark, freshman Sam Warning pounced on a Mark Alt rebound to give the Gophers a 1-0 lead.
Later in the period, sophomore Erik Haula scored his first of two goals to pad the lead.
The second-year center held the puck in the slot after receiving a pass from Jake Hansen and unleashed a shot that beat SHU freshman netminder Andrew Bodnarchuk stickside. Haula got the shot off despite being checked from behind by Pioneer forward Matt Gingera in his windup.
Patterson came up big in the opening 20 minutes as well, sandwiching two key saves in between Minnesota’s goals. The senior goalie denied Sacred Heart’s Tommy Castonguay on a breakaway and got a stick on a Chad Filteau power play attempt to reject a sure goal.
Just as they had in the first, the Gophers would score twice in the second.
Freshman defenseman Ben Marshall, who rang shots off the post twice in the team’s first game, finally found the back of the net 3:38 into the middle frame.
Captain Taylor Matson provided additional insurance 27 seconds later when Nate Condon sent the senior in alone on Bodnarchuk. Matson deposited a breakaway goal after making a swift deke to his backhand.
In the third, Minnesota, who hadn’t taken advantage of three power-play opportunities through the first two periods, made sure to capitalize with the extra skater.
At 5:32 with Gingera in the box serving a hooking minor, redshirt sophomore Zach Budish tallied his first goal since Oct. 30, 2010 against Colorado College after he missed the majority of the 2010-11 season with a knee injury.
Haula added his second goal with a minute to go to complete the scoring. Hansen recorded his fourth assist of the night on the play.
The line combination of Haula, Hansen, and Warning finished the night with 10 points on the night and 15 points on the weekend.
The Gophers begin WCHA play next weekend in a road series against defending national champion Minnesota-Duluth. The series begins at Amsoil Arena on Friday night at 7.