MINNEAPOLIS — One day after suffering an 8-0 rout at the hands of host Minnesota, the Colgate Red Raiders seemed to play harder and with greater determination Saturday night.
However, the outcome looked the same.
For a second straight night, the Gophers’ offense proved overwhelming and its defense well up to the task, as Minnesota claimed a weekend shutout with a 9-0 victory at Mariucci Arena. Grant Potulny and Matt Koalska scored twice each, and John Pohl tied a Gopher single-game record with five assists in a dominating victory.
“Luck. Pure luck,” said Pohl of his record-tying effort. “You’re only as good as the people you play with … A lot of my game is playing bounces.”
Said Minnesota coach Don Lucia, “Johnny was a real key … It doesn’t matter who we play, he’s going to bring his lunch pail.”
The opening minutes were much more settled than on Friday, and Colgate had a couple of scoring chances early, including Adam Mitchell’s backhander from the slot which threatened to put the Raiders up for the first time on the weekend.
But the Raiders fell victim to penalties once again, giving the Gophers consecutive power plays on infractions by Justin Spencer and Rob Brown. Minnesota converted the second as Paul Martin hit Potulny in the slot, and Potulny slipped the puck to an uncovered Jeff Taffe for an easy putaway, Taffe’s sixth goal of the season, at 4:40.
Taffe briefly gave the Raiders a chance to stay in it, taking an interference penalty to put Colgate a man up. But Pohl picked Ben Bryce’s pocket at the blue line, then fed Koalska cross-crease for a tap-in goal to make it 2-0 Minnesota.
Despite better play, the wheels came off for the Raiders late in the period as Potulny scored consecutive goals to put Minnesota firmly in control. Potulny’s first, and first of the season, came on the power play, a Paul Martin shot-pass that Potulny backhanded into the left side of the net.
His second, putting the Gophers up 4-0, came just 1:28 later. A Taffe takeaway in the defensive zone started a three-on-one that ended with Potulny’s wrister through the five-hole of Raider netminder David Cann.
Second-period play was mostly uneventful until midway through the frame, when the Gophers tallied their second shorthander of the night. This time, with Paul Martin off, Koalska fed a breaking Keith Ballard for a two-on-one with Pohl. Ballard’s shot caromed off the defense back to him, and Ballard tapped it home into the open net.
Gopher captain Jordan Leopold made it 6-0 with his first point of the weekend, putting a wrister from the point under Cann after a faceoff win. Senior Pat O’Leary piled on at 18:22 on a delayed penalty, taking a cross-ice feed from Pohl and blasting the puck through Cann.
Colgate captain Etienne Morin had the Raiders’ best chance of the frame, a power-play attempt from between the circles that Minnesota keeper Justin Johnson, making his collegiate debut, managed to stop.
After killing another Colgate power play early in the third, Minnesota equaled its goal output of a night ago. Pohl earned his fourth assist on the play, feeding Koalska a diagonal pass which Koalska stuffed home.
Pohl’s fifth assist, tying the all-time Gopher record for a single game, came minutes later on a power-play helper from behind the net; Barry Tallackson converted the pass to make it 9-0.
Scooter Smith and Morin had Colgate’s last chances to avoid the shutout, but Johnson stopped both tries to keep the Raiders off the board.
For the game, Minnesota outshot Colgate 38-28 as Johnson — who was forced to work harder for the shutout than Adam Hauser had Friday night — gained his first win as a Gopher. Cann, who made 29 saves for the Raiders, took his second loss of the year.
“As I look at the weekend, the major difference was goaltending,” said Lucia. “Justin played well; he earned that shutout tonight.”
“Obviously, Adam [Hauser]‘s a great goalie, and Travis [Weber]…” said Johnson of his place among the Gopher netminding threesome. “I’m just happy to be part of this club.”
Second-ranked Minnesota moved to 5-0-0 on the year, while Colgate remained winless at 0-4-0. Next weekend, Colgate hosts Iona for a single game Saturday, while Minnesota plays a pair at Michigan Tech, a team which has given Minnesota fit at times in the past.
Lucia was cognizant of that. “We have to put this [weekend] behind us,” he said. “We were a better team than Colgate, but now it’s back to work.”