Nov. 12, 2011
The top-ranked Minnesota men’s hockey team rebounded from a 3-1 loss on Friday night to give head coach Don Lucia his 300th career win behind the Gopher bench with a 4-1 road victory over Wisconsin at the Kohl Center on Saturday. After carrying the play through 40 minutes, UM used a three-goal third period to seal the win.
The Gophers received their first goal from an unlikely source 6:14 into the game.
After captain Taylor Matson made a great effort to get the puck to the blueline, junior defenseman Seth Helgeson unleashed a wrist shot that made its way through traffic and past UW goaltender Joel Rumpel to make it 1-0.
The goal was Helgeson’s first tally in his last 46 games played. He last scored in the 2010-11 season-opener against Massachusetts.
The Badgers responded with a goal of their own 10:10 later. UW sophomore right winger Tyler Barnes whacked home a back-door one-time feed by defenseman John Ramage to knot the score at one.
After an uneventful start to the middle frame, Wisconsin came close to taking the lead on the power play with 7:05 left.
On a set-up that was almost identical to the play that tied the score in the first period, Barnes was robbed by the right pad of Gopher netminder Kent Patterson at the edge of the crease.
The Badgers got another good scoring opportunity with 3:43 to go when a Minnesota turnover in the defensive zone led to Barnes and Joseph LaBate getting in alone on Patterson. Danger was avoided, however, when Barnes’ pass to LaBate when through the freshman forward’s legs.
The momentum took a turn in favor of UM seconds later when Wisconsin’s Michael Mersch was whistled for a major penalty and game misconduct after a hit on Minnesota rookie Kyle Rau.
The Gophers came up empty on the five-minute man advantage, which carried over into the third period, but would take control soon after.
After a behind-the-back pass by UM defenseman Nate Schmidt to spring Wausau, Wis.-native Nate Condon into the offensive zone, Condon fed Minnesota captain Taylor Matson in the slot. Matson converted on the ensuing shot, beating Rumpel through the five-hole.
One minute later, Patterson made a key toe save on a quick shot by LaBate to preserve the lead.
Minnesota went on to control the play until a rocket shot by Nick Bjugstad beat Rumpel over the shoulder to make it 3-1.
Condon added another insurance goal with 4:34 to go on a great individual effort. The sophomore forward created his own breakaway off a Badger turnover, sped in alone on goal, and beat Rumpel with a quick snapshot on the stick side.
In addition to giving Lucia his 300th win with Minnesota, the 4-1 triumph helped the Gophers maintain a three-point lead for first place in the WCHA standings.
Next weekend, UM will play a home-and-home series against in-state rival St. Cloud. Friday’s game in St. Cloud will start at 7:30 p.m and Saturday night’s game will be played at Mariucci Arena at 7.
Sheehy Tabbed B1G Second Star
The sophomore leads the Gophers with 20 points and nine goals this year while his 11 assists are tied for the team lead.
Around the Rink: Vinni Lettieri
A native of Excelsior, Minn., Lettieri ranks second on the Gophers with 14 points (six goals, eight assists) in 14 games this season.
Gophers Settle for Big Ten Split
With two goals and an assist in the loss, Tyler Sheehy now leads Minnesota with nine goals and 20 points on the season.