Minnesota rode a healthy lineup, improved special teams and strong goaltending to its first sweep of the season.
At 3M Arena at Mariucci, the No. 7 Gophers (5-3-0, 1-1-0 Big Ten) defeated the No. 9 Clarkson Golden Nights (4-3-1, 0-0-0 ECAC) 3-1 on Friday and 2-1 on Saturday night. The Gophers had a full lineup for the first time since their game against Union College on Oct. 7. Freshmen forwards Casey Mittelstadt and Scott Reedy returned from injury, and combined for four points on the weekend.
“Everyone knows [Reedy and Mittelstadt] are two good players, so it’s never going to be a bad thing to have them in our lineup,” said sophomore forward Rem Pitlick after Friday night’s victory. “They provide a lot of energy and a lot of skill, so it was good for them to contribute on a couple [goals] tonight. That’s only going to make our team better every night.”
With 13 minutes left in the third period, Tyler Sheehy took the puck behind the net and sent a pass to Mittelstadt. His shot was blocked, but Pitlick was there to collect the rebound and fire it past Golden Knights’ goalie Jake Kielly. The goal put the Gophers up 2-0 and proved to be the eventual game winner Friday night.
Brent Gates Jr. and Reedy also scored for the Gophers, and goalie Eric Schierhorn had a strong performance, stopping 26 of the 27 shots he faced.
The Gophers established a lot more offensive zone time than they had in any prior game this season. Two of the team's three goals came on rebounds on Friday.
“That’s how you score goals. If we think we’re going to be shooting pucks from the top of the circle tomorrow night and expect to have any success we’re not going to,” said head coach Don Lucia after Friday night’s game. “Sometimes it’s shooting to get a second chance opportunity and we have to continue to work at that and be around the net.”
Gophers power play heats up in second game
On Saturday night, the Gophers relied upon their power play and penalty kill, along with another strong performance from Schierhorn to get the win. The power play seemed to be clicking for the Gophers, as they picked up both their goals on the power play. Seniors Leon Bristedt and Mike Szmatula scored the goals for the team.
“We switched it up and moved it around and were able to find a hole," Szmatula said after Saturday’s game. "It’s a really good team over there, hardworking, and they take pride in their [penalty kill]. We knew it was about time and any day it would click for the power play."
The Gophers tallied three power play goals and were perfect on the penalty kill this weekend. The Gophers improvement on their power play and penalty kill, strong goaltending and a healthy lineup led them to their first sweep of the season.
“It’s something to build on,” said Bristedt on Saturday night. “We weren’t off to the start we wanted. We have a tough schedule, but we play with high expectations on ourselves."