The No. 5 Gophers (7-3-0, 3-1-0 Big Ten) defeated the Spartans (4-4-0, 0-2-0 Big Ten) 3-1 on Friday and 4-0 on Saturday at 3M Arena at Mariucci. The Gophers are currently on a season-high four-game winning streak.
“It’s huge,” said goalie Eric Schierhorn after Saturday's game. “We haven’t played the best in these four games, but if you’re winning, nothing else matters. It’s good to know we can win and not play our best, so it’s huge for our confidence."
The Gophers gave up just one goal all weekend. Schierhorn stopped 46 of the 47 shots he faced. He picked up a shutout on Saturday night.
“It feels good,” said Schierhorn after Saturday’s game. “A couple late third period goals in previous games, but to get a whole 60 [minutes without letting in a goal] feels good.”
Last weekend, the Gophers relied upon many garbage goals; that wasn’t the case this weekend. The Gophers’ speed and skill shined as they scored numerous goals off the rush. One of these goals was the first and eventual game-winner on Saturday night.
In the first minute of the game, junior forward Tommy Novak flew down the left-wing boards and sent a pass through the slot to a driving Tyler Sheehy. The Gophers’ captain one-timed-it in for his first of the season. The goal would end up being the game-winner as the Gophers went on to victory 4-0 Saturday evening.
“We’re a fast team and we have a lot of skill,” said captain Tyler Sheehy. “We’re going to make a lot of plays off the rush, it’s part of our strength and something we’re going to try to do. We also have to play good down low behind their defensemen as well.”
Though the Gophers seemed to control both games this weekend, they couldn't establish any sustained offensive zone time. The games were back and forth for the most part with Minnesota getting higher quality chances off the rush. The team needs to improve their play in the offensive zone, head coach Don Lucia said.
“We have to play heavy and protect the puck," Lucia said. "We still have a tendency to want to hurry and throw it to someone who’s not there and all that is, is initiating the other teams break out.”
Friday night’s goal scorers were sophomore Ryan Lindgren, junior Brent Gates Jr. and sophomore Rem Pitlick. In addition to Sheehy, freshman Casey Mittelstadt, sophomore Tyler Nanne, and senior Leon Bristedt scored for the Gophers on Saturday.
“[I’m] happy with the weekend,” Lucia said. “I think it’s the first time anyone has won two in a weekend in the Big Ten so far this season.”