MINNEAPOLIS — Underdog Bemidji State was overpowered by No. 3-ranked Minnesota, as the Golden Gophers scored on their first five man advantages, coasting to a 7-2 victory on Friday.
“You can’t be in the penalty box against a team like Minnesota,” said BSU coach Tom Serratorre. “There is a load of skill on their backline.”
Minnesota’s win came amid a haze of controversey. Friday, USCHO broke the story of a potential recruiting violation regarding Zach Parise, a high school star who recently verbally committed to North Dakota.
With everyone talking about it, Lucia would only say that the USCHO report was an accurate reflection of events.
“I asked them not to go,” said Lucia of the visit by former coach Glen Sonmor and former player Lou Nanne to a highly-touted recruit earlier in the week. Such visits are forbidden by the NCAA, if it is for recruiting purposes. “I wish they would not have gone down there. I was more concerned how it looks for the University.”
Despite all of the chatter, the Gopher players were unfazed. Minnesota started the scoring early as Erik Wendell opened with a power-play goal at 3:49 on the Gophers’ first shot of the game.
It came on during a holding penalty by the Beavers’ Jeff McGill. Jordon Leopold set the stage by wristing a shot from the center blue line. Wendell tipped the shot past Bemidji State’s netminder Grady Hunt to earn his first goal of the season.
Minnesota landed the second punch 83 seconds later at 5:12 on an even-strength goal by freshman Barry Tallackson. Defenseman Paul Martin set up the play by driving the left lane and feeding a pass back across the goal lane to Tallackson, who buried the puck for his first collegiate goal.
At 10:03, BSU scored on a delayed penalty as Kurt Knott found the top shelf on a slap shot from the top of the right circle on a fast break. Knott had received the puck from Jared Hanowski at center-ice with speed, driving past the lone Minnesota defender and beating Minnesota’s freshman netminder Travis Weber. Hunt had barely made it to the Beaver bench when the goal was scored.
The first-period scoring closed with Minnesota leading 3-1 on a nifty power-play goal by Troy Riddle. A 1-2-3 play from Tallackson and Koalska left Riddle wide open at the left pipe for the tap in.
The Beavers opened the second with the power play but they failed to muster a shot.
It was then that the Gophers took over, dominating the second period and tallying three power-play goals. Riddle notched his second of the game, and Johnny Pohl and Leopold added scores.
“We have two real good units this year,” Minnesota coach Don Lucia said of his power-play units. “Our 5-on-5 play needs some work.”
BSU finished the game strong, outshooting the Gophers 10-6 in the final stanza. Their third-period efforts were highlighted by an unassisted power-play rush by Riley Riddell at 18:24.
Both coaches said BSU had showed improvement over last year. “We gave up 50-plus shots last year. … This year it was only in the 30s. We clogged the neutral zone well,” Serratore said.
“I think Bemidji is better this year. They kept the shots way down. They’re going to win some games,” said Lucia.
Senior goaltender Adam Hauser is expected to start if healthy Saturday.
“He [Adam] got sick today. If he is healthy enough, he will play tomorrow,” said Lucia.
“We can’t take any game lightly. We have to put this game behind us and concentrate on tomorrow night,” said the Gophers’ Jordon Leopold.