Gophers Cruise to 5-1 Win in Season Opener
MINNEAPOLIS - For the fifth time in the last six years, the Minnesota men's hockey program opened the season with a win- topping Michigan State 5-1 on Friday night at Mariucci Arena. Five different Gophers scored including sophomore Christian Isackson, who tallied his first official career goal after notching a hat trick in last Saturday's exhibition win over Lethbridge.
The Gophers (1-0-0 overall, 0-0-0 WCHA) wasted little time showing off their highly anticipated offense on Friday night -jumping out to a 3-0 first period lead. Sophomore Ben Marshall blasted a goal from just inside the blue line at 4:27 of the first after redshirt junior Zach Budish and sophomore Sam Warning set up the play. Junior Nick Bjugstad - the preseason favorite for the WCHA' Player of the Year award - added to the lead just over two minutes later when he snuck the puck behind Michigan State goalie Will Yanakeff at 6:40. Freshman Mike Reilly and sophomore Kyle Rau added assists on the goal. The three-goal first was concluded by Isackson's tally after the sophomore was set up by Bjugstad at 13:38.
After an offensive explosion in the first, the Gophers would add a goal in each of the game's final two periods to take a 5-0 lead into the game's final minutes. Minnesota's leading scorer a year ago, Erik Haula would find his way onto the score sheet at 17:46 of the second period after being set up by Budish and Reilly (second assists of the night for both). Sophomore Travis Boyd would conclude Minnesota's scoring for the night, scoring on Minnesota's first power play of the night - a 5-on-3 opportunity - at 11:30 of the third. Sophomore Seth Ambroz and junior Nate Condon earned assists on the play. Minnesota's power-play unit would finish the night 1-for-2 while the penalty killing unit went 3-for-3.
Junior Michael Shibrowski would pick up the win in his first career start for the Gophers - making 25 saves and coming just short of a shutout. After going relatively untested in last week's exhibition game, the netminder came up big when the Gophers needed him to. Shibrowski carried a clean sheet for just under 56 minutes on Saturday night before Tanner Sorenson found the back of the net to make it a 5-1 game late in the third. David Bondra earned an assist on the goal. Yanakeff suffered the loss for Michigan State, making 37 saves on 42 shots.
Minnesota and Michigan State conclude their nonconference series tomorrow night at Mariucci Arena. Game time is scheduled for 8 p.m.
-Pride on Ice-