GRAND FORKS, N.D. – Senior defenseman Steve Johnson scored his first goal in over a year and a half to push the No. 8 Gopher Hockey program to a 2-1 win over No. 4 North Dakota on Friday night at Ralph Engelstad Arena.
Rem Pitlick set up Johnson’s game-winning tally while also adding a goal of his own to lead the Maroon & Gold.
In a game that saw the two long-time rivals combine for 15 penalties, Minnesota (3-2-0 overall, 1-1-0-0 Big Ten) picked up two goals on just 18 shots while Eric Schierhorn made 35 saves on 36 shots to pick up the win in goal.
Pitlick struck first when he buried a breakaway to put the Gophers up by a goal at 11:00 of the first period off two nice passes from Casey Mittelstadt and Tyler Sheehy. Sheehy’s assist came in his return to the Gophers lineup after missing last weekend’s Big Ten series with an injury. Pitlick and Mittelstadt have now tallied points in four of five games this year.
Following a scoreless second period, Johnson snapped a 48-game goal drought (dating back to Feb. 25, 2016) to add to the lead at 12:08 of the third period. Pitlick earned the assist on the goal.
North Dakota (3-1-1, 0-0-0-0 NCHC) finally got on the board with a power-play goal from Rhett Gardner at 13:40 of the third period, but the Fighting Hawks wouldn’t get closer.
The Maroon & Gold closed out the victory with a game-saving block from Jack Ramsey as Minnesota held a 29-6 advantage on blocks including six from Tyler Nanne, five from Jack Glover and four from Ramsey.
Minnesota and North Dakota conclude this weekend’s series on Saturday at 7 p.m. CT.
Single-game tickets, season tickets and flexible Pick-Your-Packs are currently available at GopherSports.com, by calling 1-800-U-Gopher or by stopping by the ticket office at 3M Arena at Mariucci.
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