MINNEAPOLIS — Third-ranked Minnesota buried its second-chance opportunities Saturday night, coasting to a 7-1 win against Bemidji State at Mariucci Arena for a series sweep.
The Gophers started quick against the Beavers, taking advantage of an early power play at 1:23, on a goal by John Pohl. The goal came on a rebound of Jordon Leopold’s shot which landed right on the unguarded Pohl’s stick.
“No matter who you play, you’re going to need to score on tips and rebounds. Hockey has become so defensive-oriented… You can’t count on scoring on direct shots,” said Pohl.
The quick goal ignited the Gopher offense, which swarmed the net, peppering BSU netminder Grady Hunt with 22 shots in the first period. The Beavers only mustered five shots on goal in the frame.
“We played better tonight… We moved the puck,” said Minnesota coach Don Lucia.
Jeff Taffe put Minnesota up 2-0 at 15:03, tapping in a puck left at the top of the goal crease. Hunt had slid to the left post as the puck bounced between legs in front of the net.
Minnesota closed its first-period scoring with a power-play goal on a pool shot from defenseman Paul Martin on the baseline at 18:19. Martin used netminder Hunt’s back to deflect the puck in the net.
BSU came out to play in the the first half of the second period, outshooting Minnesota 7-4, but failing to bury the puck.
The Beavers’ momentum was taken from their sails as Minnesota took advantage of an interference penalty on John Haider at 10:01 mark. 29 seconds later Taffe buried his second goal of the game on a long rebound. Bemidji managed only two shots for the remainder of the second period.
The Gophers went up 5-0 on Pohl’s second power-play goal of the night at the 9:28 mark of the third period, and Troy Riddle added a shorthanded goal at 9:28.
Minnesota netminder Adam Hauser lost his shutout bid at 14:47 of the third on a one-timer by Riley Riddell. Hauser stopped 19 of 20 shots on the night.
“I thought Adam looked sharp tonight. He was out challenging shots. He looked big,” said Lucia.
Bemidji continued to fight, while Minnesota appeared to have checked out, sending a steady stream of players to the penalty box.
“Guys felt bad for [Adam]… We let him down on a few late shifts,” said Taffe on losing the shutout.
Minnesota fourth-liner Pat O’Leary finished the scoring with a minute left in the game.
“We are going to have some competition for playing time. Guys will have to fight to be in the line up next week… I really like our depth,” said Lucia.