MINNEAPOLIS — The top-ranked team in the nation, unbeaten Minnesota, put on a special-teams show Friday night at Mariucci Arena, scoring two shorthanded goals on the same power play and adding a man-up goal en route to a 5-1 victory over intrastate rival Minnesota-Duluth.
Nick Anthony and Nick Angell scored the shorthanders for the Gophers just 10 seconds apart in the second period, breaking open a one-goal contest.
“Nick Anthony had a real nice shot from the corner,” said Angell, “and mine … was kind of lucky.
“When we popped in those two quick goals, it deflated them.”
John Pohl added a goal and an assist to take over sole possession of the NCAA scoring lead with 9-16–25 in 10 games this season.
Just 19 seconds into the contest, Duluth (4-6-1, 0-6-1 WCHA) committed a cardinal sin against the WCHA’s best power play, going down a man on Junior Lessard’s ill-advised slash. 24 seconds later, Minnesota led 1-0 on Grant Potulny’s tip-in of Jeff Taffe’s point shot. Potulny’s goal was his fourth of the year, as the sophomore alternate captain continues to shake off a slow start to the season.
The Gophers (9-0-1, 4-0-1 WCHA) dominated the rest of the period territorially, outskating the Bulldogs for loose pucks and keeping UMD’s shots on the perimeter. At 16:48, Minnesota added its second goal courtesy of an unexpected charge by defenseman Matt DeMarchi.
DeMarchi, a physical presence on the blue line not known for his scoring, came untouched through the slot, took a nifty pass from Pohl and hit the crossbar on a partial fan. With the puck lying in the crease, freshman winger Barry Tallackson slipped between two Bulldog defenders to poke it home for the eventual game-winner.
“We did a good job with puck possession in the offensive zone, especially in the first period,” said Minnesota coach Don Lucia.
Shots on goal after one favored Minnesota 11-5, a margin which understated the Gophers’ offensive advantage in the period.
“I think we played a bad first period,” an unhappy UMD coach Scott Sandelin said, “without nearly the urgency or aggressiveness we needed.”
The opening of the second period looked much the same until a pair of rookies slowed Minnesota’s momentum. Brett Hammond split the Minnesota defense on a long lead pass from Tim Hambly, caught up to the puck at the right faceoff dot and beat Adam Hauser five-hole for his first collegiate goal to narrow the score to 2-1.
The Gophers’ power play got on the ice again after a hold by Neil Petruic, but a subsequent holding-the-stick infraction against captain Jordan Leopold seemed to end that threat — until Minnesota turned the Bulldogs’ subsequent power play into a disaster with two shorthanded goals, taking control for good.
The first was shorthanded in name only. Skating four-on-four, Troy Riddle penetrated the UMD zone and left the puck for Angell, whose slapshot from the left point appeared to hit a stick and slip under Ryan Coole, just two seconds after Petruic left the box for Duluth.
“I’d like to think I knew [Coole's] weaknesses and picked them apart,” joked Angell.
Immediately off the ensuing faceoff, Anthony added insult to injury by stealing the puck at neutral ice, outracing the defense to the left faceoff dot and beating Coole cleanly to the far side for a 4-1 lead.
Sandelin took Duluth’s timeout at that point, pulling Coole for junior Rob Anderson. For the evening, Coole made 17 saves on 21 shots in just over 30 minutes of play.
“I almost [pulled Coole] after the third goal,” said Sandelin, who noted that the change was a combination of commentary on soft goals and motivational tool for his team. “[Some of] those are saves that have to be made.”
“Even though I felt we were in control at 2-1, they were going on the power play with a chance to get back in the game,” said Lucia. “Those goals ended it, for all practical purposes.”
A little post-whistle scrum between Riddle and UMD’s Nate Anderson led to another Bulldog power play when Riddle took an extra two minutes on an unusual instigating call. But again the best chance of the five-on-four belonged to the Gophers; Matt Koalska failed only by inches to add to Minnesota’s scoring totals, missing a swing at a loose puck outside the UMD crease.
Six-plus minutes into the third, the Bulldogs got a chance to climb back into the game on consecutive penalties by Taffe and Paul Martin. But Minnesota cleared the puck immediately, then got a shorthanded chance by Pohl. Captain Judd Medak then took a bad penalty, hauling Leopold down while trying to keep the puck in the offensive zone.
Minutes later, Minnesota caught Duluth out of defensive position to seal the deal. Hauser hit Pohl with the long outlet pass, and Pohl skated in unopposed and uncorked a big slapshot that evaded Anderson to make for the final score at 11:03.
Despite the four-goal differential, Sandelin didn’t see a big disparity in play.
“They come down, shoot the puck, it goes in. We come down, shoot the puck, hit a pipe. That’s the difference,” said Sandelin.
For the evening, Hauser stopped 20 of 21 Duluth shots. Anderson made 18 saves while allowing one goal in relief of Coole.
Minnesota hosts Minnesota-Duluth for the back end of their weekend series Saturday night at 7 p.m.