MINNEAPOLIS — Look out, WCHA, because here comes Michigan Tech.
The Huskies, the last-place team in the WCHA, shocked No. 4 Minnesota by completing a two-game sweep Saturday, 3-1 at Mariucci Arena. Chris Conner scored the game winning goal in the second period to give MTU its first sweep in Minneapolis since 1971.
Minnesota led 1-0 in the first period, but the Huskies (5-17-1, 4-14-0 WCHA) scored twice in the second and added an empty-net goal late in the third.
Minnesota took an early 1-0 lead behind Danny Irmen’s 18th goal of the season. At 12:17 of the first, with the Gophers (18-9-0, 11-7-0 WCHA) on a 5-on-3 power play, Tyler Hirsch took a Chris Harrington pass and fired a low shot that deflected off Irmen’s skate and sneaked under MTU goaltender Cam Ellsworth’s pads.
Minnesota controlled play for the majority of the period, outshooting the Huskies, 14-5.
But Michigan Tech won the second period, scoring twice in a little over a minute to take a 2-1 lead into the second intermission. The Huskies earned their first marker at 16:37 with defenseman John Scott’s second goal of the season. Scott one-timed a Brandon Schwartz pass from the right circle to beat Gopher goaltender Justin Johnson to the glove side.
Just 1:05 later, MTU grabbed its first lead of the game on Conner’s 11th goal of the season. Clay Wilson fired a shot from the point, with the puck bouncing off the rear boards to Conner to tuck in past a sprawling Johnson. Colin Murphy got the second assist for his fifth point of the weekend.
The Huskies played a strong second period, outshooting Minnesota, 18-14.
The third period saw the Golden Gophers increase the offensive pressure, but fail to solve Ellsworth for a second time. Minnesota pulled Johnson for the extra attacker late in regulation, but Murphy iced the game with an empty-net goal at 19:36. Minnesota outshot the Huskies, 10-8, in the third period.
The Gophers finished with a 38-31 advantage on the shot board. Ellsworth earned the win to improve to 4-9-0 on the season, while Johnson got the loss with 28 saves, falling to 1-2-0.
The Gophers are now on a four-game home losing streak for the first time since Nov. 1 to Dec. 19, 1997. Minnesota had not suffered two consecutive home sweeps since Feb. 18-26, 1977.