MINNEAPOLIS — After Minnesota scored an eye-popping seven goals in each of its first three games of the season, most doubted that the Golden Gophers would duplicate that output Friday night against Colgate.
They were right: this time, Minnesota scored eight.
For the fourth straight game, Minnesota showcased its offense, scoring four goals in the first period and notching three power-play tallies en route to a surprisingly easy 8-0 victory over the Raiders at Mariucci Arena.
“I was [surprised at the margin],” said Minnesota head coach Don Lucia. “I didn’t expect the game would get that out of hand.”
Gopher keeper Adam Hauser stopped 18 shots for the win. The shutout was Hauser’s eighth all-time, making him Minnesota’s career leader in that category.
“That was probably, for me, the best part of the night,” said Lucia. “Adam stayed with [the shutout], and sometimes those are the toughest games, when you take control early.”
“It’s nice that we have four wins under our belt,” said Hauser, deflecting praise for his accomplishment. “That’s more important to this team.”
Sloppy play early in the first kept scoring chances down, but the Gophers still managed to get on the board quickly. Defenseman Keith Ballard one-timed a Nick Angell cross-ice pass off the right post, giving the preseason WCHA Rookie of the Year his first collegiate goal at 2:06.
The red-hot power play earned the next Minnesota goal. After a Matt Scanlan slash, Jeff Taffe found Paul Martin alone in the high slot, feeding the sophomore for a blast that beat Colgate netminder Jason Lefevre glove-side.
Sophomore Matt Koalska made it 3-0 Gophers, outracing the defense up the left side and lifting a point-blank forehand high for his second goal of the year with under three minutes left in the period.
Minnesota capped off the frame with another power-play goal, this one off the stick of Troy Riddle. Dmitry Yashin’s ill-advised elbowing infraction set up the man-advantage, and the Gophers needed only 30 seconds before Erik Wendell’s sharp cross-ice pass allowed Riddle to slip the puck home five-hole on a two-on-one.
Shots after one period were 14-5 Gophers, and even that was deceptively close. The Raiders had just one legitimate scoring chance in the first 20 minutes, and spent most of the stanza backpedaling against the Minnesota forwards.
“We really haven’t been in our own end much this season,” said Lucia of the Gophers’ high-octane performances.
Colgate’s Steve Silverthorn made his collegiate debut in net to open the second period, and the Raiders promptly took two penalties (one a slash by Silverthorn himself) to give Minnesota a five-on-three. The Gophers could not capitalize; but neither could Colgate on a five-on-three of its own minutes later, generating only one shot on goal despite 1:37 of two-man advantage.
Minnesota’s fourth line picked up the next goal on yeomanlike work by Nick Anthony, who put away a loose rebound of Angell’s shot at 12:39. Barely a minute later, the Gophers made it 6-0 on the power play, with Taffe blasting a one-timer over Silverthorn off assists from John Pohl and Paul Martin.
The third period was played much more evenly until the final moments, with Colgate pressing and Minnesota apparently content to sit on its lead. But seconds after the expiration of a Raider power play, Riddle scored his fifth goal of the year, unassisted, on a blast from between the circles; and with 46 seconds to go, Anthony made it 8-0 by flipping a backhander over Silverthorn after a long lead pass from rookie Mike Erickson.
“That’s somebody who I think is capable of getting a dozen [goals] for us this year,” said Lucia of Anthony, who had totaled just nine goals in his two-year collegiate career entering the evening.
For the game, Minnesota was 3-for-7 with the extra skater, keeping the Gophers’ conversion rate over .500 for the season. Colgate went 0-for-5.
For Colgate, Lefevre made 10 saves while giving up four goals, and Silverthorn stopped 18 while also allowing four scores.
No. 2 Minnesota is now 4-0-0 on the season, while Colgate remains winless at 0-3-0. The same two teams meet again Saturday night to wrap up the weekend series.