Gophers Complete Season-Opening Sweep with 7-1 Win
MINNEAPOLIS - Seven different Gophers tallied a goal as Minnesota picked up a season-opening sweep over Michigan State on Saturday night with a 7-1 win. Coupled with last night's 5-1 win over the Spartans, 16 of Minnesota's 20 skaters during the two-game series tallied a point over the weekend.
While the offense remained hot for the second night in a row, the Minnesota defense stifled the Spartans on Saturday and kept the visiting team to just 11 shots on the night. Freshman goaltender Adam Wilcox picked up his first career win in his first career start - turning away 10 of the shots he faced including a terrific glove save in the game's opening moments with the score knotted at 0-0.
For the second night in a row, Minnesota (2-0-0 overall, 0-0-0 WCHA) jumped out to a large first period lead with four goals in the opening stanza. Junior Erik Haula put the Gophers up 1-0 just 1:25 into the contest when he knocked in his own rebound for his second goal of the year after being set up by sophomore Sam Warning and redshirt junior Zach Budish.
Junior Nick Bjugstad would also pocket his second goal of the season at 5:19 of the first when sophomore Kyle Rau hit a wide-open Bjugstad right in front of the crease. Sophomore Christian Isackson also earned an assist on the play. Junior Tom Serratore made it a three-goal lead after finding a loose puck in front of the net and scoring two minutes after Bjustad at 7:19. Junior Justin Holl and freshman Ryan Reilly earned assists with Reilly tallying his first career point on the play.
After getting the Gophers started with a goal on Friday, sophomore Ben Marshall would bust Saturday's game wide open with a shot that bested Michigan State goalie Will Yanakeff at 19:06 of the period. Haula and Budish were credited with assists on the goal, the second point of the night for each - five Gophers would record two-point games on Saturday.
The Gophers, who tallied 34 shots in the win, would extend the lead to 5-0 just 30 seconds into the second period when Rau found the net for the first time this year after being set up by Isackson and freshman Brady Skjei - the assist marked Skjei's first career goal with the Gophers. With the rout already underway after just over 20 minutes of play, junior Nate Condon added his first of the year later in the period at 14:58 with a snipe. Sophomore Seth Ambroz and junior Mark Alt added helpers on the goal.
After Michigan State's Brent Darnell put the Spartans on the board at 2:05 of the final period, the Gophers would get the only power-play goal of the night at 15:42 when Skjei - the New York Rangers' first-round draft pick in 2012 - lit the lamp for the first time as a college hockey player with a one-timer from the point. Skjei's power-play strike was set up by junior Nate Schmidt and Holl and closed out the night's scoring for both squads. Minnesota's power-play finished the night 1-for-8 while the Spartans went 0-for-2.
Minnesota opens WCHA play next weekend with a two-game series at Michigan Tech.
-Pride on Ice-