Oct. 12, 2013
MINNEAPOLIS -- The fifth-ranked Minnesota men's hockey team finished its opening weekend by claiming the 2013 Ice Breaker Tournament championship with a 3-2 victory against No. 13 New Hampshire Saturday night at Mariucci Arena. Freshman Vinni Lettieri's second-period goal, his first as a Gopher, proved to be the difference.
The first period saw each team generate multiple scoring opportunities, but none of them found the back of the net as netminders Adam Wilcox and Casey DeSmith kept the game scoreless through 20 minutes. Minnesota held a 9-6 advantage in shots, but finished the frame shorthanded after Sam Warning was whistled for tripping with 10 seconds to go.
The Wildcats capitalized on the man advantage just 25 seconds into the second period as captain Eric Knodel found the top right corner of the net to make it 1-0.
UNH regained the lead at the 11:30 mark of the middle frame with another power-play tally when Nick Sorkin connected on a point shot. Defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk earned his second assist of the game on the play.
The Gophers, however, would respond even quicker than they did when trailing 1-0 by evening the game at 2-2 on when Sam Warning notched his second goal of the season. The junior winger missed on his initial shot attempt after breaking into the zone and Holl and Kyle Rau missed the bouncing rebound, but Warning finished the play on a sharp angle shot.
Lettieri scored the eventual game-winner with 2:10 left in the middle stanza, flinging a shot from the left circle that beat DeSmith short-side. Seth Ambroz and A.J. Michaelson registered assists on the play.
After allowing his first two goals against of the season in the second, Wilcox made the Gophers' only lead stand, turning aside all 14 Wildcat shots he faced in the third. His biggest test of the frame came with 7.3 seconds left when Dalton Speelman had a gaping net to shoot at after the puck landed on his stick on the back door. Wilcox sprawled across the blue paint to deny the Wildcat senior with the glove and seal the win.
Wilcox's weekend performance, which included 46 saves on 48 shots, earned the sophomore goaltender all-tournament honors. He joined teammates Fasching, Rau, and Ice Breaker Tournament MVP on the all-tournament team.
Minnesota will play its first road series of the season next weekend against Bemidji State.
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Twenty-nine regular-season Gopher games will be televised including all 20 Big Ten contests this season.
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Hockey Day Minnesota is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 21 with the Maroon & Gold playing a 5 p.m. CT Border Battle matchup at Wisconsin.