MINNEAPOLIS — The No. 9 Minnesota Golden Gophers beat Big Ten rival Michigan 5-2, putting up an astounding 45 shots in the first game of the weekend series at Mariucci Arena.
The Gophers looked fast and they used the big, Olympic ice to their advantage in a revenge game against Michigan after getting beat in the final game of the season last year at the Big Ten Championship.
“We do have good speed and quickness because we are not the biggest team, we’re not the most physical team, so we have to rely on that speed and quickness for us to be affective,” said Gophers coach Don Lucia.
Even with that speed, the Gophers were not the first to score, and they needed to come up with an answer for the quick one-timer goal by Michigan defender Max Shuart that occurred halfway through the first frame.
Lucia talked about Michigan’s tendency to strike first after the game.
“Michigan scored the first goal again, that’s 15 out of 19 games they’ve scored the first goal, and that’s something we talked about.”
The Gophers had a quick answer to that first goal when Rem Pitlick came down the left side of the ice and sniped Michigan goalie Zach Nagelvoort over his right shoulder to get the Gophers on the board.
The Gophers’ scoring continued in the period with a slap shot deflection goal by Tommy Novak and then a third goal was put away with 1.7 seconds remaining by Mike Szmatula after a slap shot rebound left an open net.
A short-handed goal in the beginning of the second period by Michigan’s Brendan Warren made it a one-goal game, but that goal was again answered by Gophers goals when Tyler Sheehy put in his own rebound low short side and then for good measure Sheehy scored again halfway through the final period for his second goal of the night and third point.
That would conclude the scoring for the night, and Minnesota ended the night victorious 5-3.
“I thought we took too many penalties, they scored timely goals,” said Michigan coach Red Berenson. “Tonight wasn’t good enough … look at the shots after one period, after two periods and after three periods, you’re not going to get momentum playing that way.”
The Gophers had 20 more shots in the game, with 45 to Michigan’s 24. Michigan also took more penalties and had seven of them, one being a five-minute major and misconduct in the second period.
Michigan acknowledges that it is not the same team it was last year after losing the bulk of its scoring players to the NHL this year.
“We’re not a gifted team, we’re not last year’s team, we’re not going to lead the country in scoring,” said Berenson. “We can’t give up three; anytime we give up three, chances are we are going to lose that game.”
Michigan now moves to 8-10-1 overall and 1-4-0 in Big Ten play after the loss, while Minnesota moves up to 12-5-2 overall with a first place Big Ten record of 4-1.
Michigan and Minnesota play again tomorrow, with Michigan needing to pick up its defense while Minnesota seems to be happy with the win, but looking to correct on the few blunders it had tonight that cost them two goals.
Big Ten roundup
Penn State 5, Michigan State 2
Pennsylvania State beat Michigan State 5-2 in Friday night’s conference matchup that gave Penn State another three conference points to stay at first place with Minnesota. Though Michigan State put up the first goal, Penn State scored the next three. Michigan State’s Joe Cox then scored halfway through the second, making it a closer game, but that was soon followed by another two Penn State goals in the third period.
Ohio State 6, Arizona State 1
Ohio State defeated Arizona State handily in a nonconference game, 6-1 on Friday night. Ohio State got on the board quickly and often, with four goals coming in the first 11 minutes of the game. In the second period, ASU put up its lone tally with a goal by Brinson Pasichnuk, but the scoring stopped there for ASU and Ohio State followed with two more goals.