The Gophers’ weekend got off to almost the worst start imaginable. Three different goalies saw time in the net as Minnesota lost 8-3 to No. 9 Michigan in Ann Arbor.
The team was able to turn it around quickly on Saturday, winning the second game of the series 3-2 with three goals from its junior class.
The weekend split with the Wolverines kept the Gophers alone in first place in the Big Ten.
“Our team does not have a big margin for error,” head coach Don Lucia told reporters after the game Saturday. “We have to win when playing solid defensively with good goaltending. … When you go on the road, that’s how you have to win.”
Michigan scored a season-high eight goals Friday night, with freshman goalie Eric Schierhorn allowing five goals on 15 shots and sophomore Nick Lehr allowing three goals on nine shots.
It was the most Minnesota (7-8, 3-1 Big Ten) had allowed in a game this year and only the third time since 2000 the team allowed eight or more goals.
“Very tough to take [any] positives [away],” sophomore defenseman Jack Glover told reporters after Friday’s game. “At the end of the day we gave up eight, and there’s really no positives from there.”
The Wolverines were led by freshman forward Kyle Connor, who had three goals in the game.
The Gophers’ power play cooled off in the game, with only one goal in five opportunities and a shorthanded goal. Coming into the series, the team was 6-9 on the power play in their last four games.
Junior forward Hudson Fasching was one of the only bright spots for the Gophers with two goals Friday. Freshman forward Tyler Sheehy also scored a goal in Friday’s game in the second period, tying the contest at 2-2.
Michigan responded with a go-ahead goal 34 seconds later and added three more in the period.
“[Michigan’s] a really resilient team,” Fasching told reporters after Friday’s game. “They get scored on then go ahead with a big shift.”
Fasching added another goal on Saturday, and fellow juniors Jake Bischoff and Vinni Lettieri also chipped in scores in the Gophers’ victory.
Bischoff and Fasching scored in the first period to give the Gophers a 2-0 lead, but the Wolverines tied it up in the second with two goals from Connor.
Lettieri responded on the Gophers’ very next shift, scoring 12 seconds after Connor’s second goal to give the Gophers the lead.
Schierhorn put his forgettable performance on Friday behind him and allowed just two goals on 35 shots.
“[Schierhorn] came back and played like he has most of the season,” Lucia told reporters after Saturday’s game. “You have to have that in college hockey. Everything’s so close.”
The junior class scored five out of the six goals for the Gophers against Michigan.
“We didn’t really show up [Friday],” Bischoff told reporters Saturday. “We gave them nearly everything we had, and tonight we came out, worked hard for 60 minutes and ended up getting the job done.”