MINNEAPOLIS — It took a bit longer to develop, but the result was pretty much the same.
Minnesota scored three first-period goals for the second straight night, getting contributions from up and down the roster to pummel Niagara 7-1, completing a weekend sweep at Mariucci Arena. The Gophers put 66 shots on goal for a two-game total of 119.
Andy Sertich and Danny Irmen had two goals apiece and six other players had multiple-point nights for Minnesota (13-5-4), which won its sixth straight game.
“Sixty-six shots, we’re pleased with that,” said Sertich, who scored the Gophers’ second and seventh goals. “But we gave up  shots against, and we can’t do that in conference play.”
“That was a bit of a pond hockey game out there,” agreed Minnesota head coach Don Lucia.
Niagara (10-9-1) looked better than on Friday, even though the scoreboard failed to reflect it.
“We played well — we just couldn’t get anything by them,” said Niagara head coach Dave Burkholder. “We had a lot of grade-A [chances] that just didn’t go in.”
Despite allowing seven goals, senior Jeff Van Nynatten was again solid in net for Niagara with 59 saves, a record for CHA goaltenders. That included one snappy glove stop after breaking his goalstick diving back into the crease after an errant puck in the third period.
His Gopher counterpart, freshman Jeff Frazee, racked up 35 saves in a first-class effort.
“I thought Jeff Frazee was very good,” said Lucia. “That was maybe the best game he’s played since he’s been here.”
“Definitely, by far,” agreed Frazee. “I don’t think I’ve played well yet this year, so hopefully that’s a step for me.”
The night’s other big storyline involved a late scrum, which broke out with five and a half minutes left in the game after Frazee took exception to a Sean Bentivoglio whack at a frozen puck.
That led to a brawl that ended up costing both teams. Minnesota’s Chris Harrington and Niagara captain Jason Williamson tussled in what looked like a harmless wrestling match, but both were handed five-minute fighting majors and game disqualifications by referee Pete Friesema, meaning each will miss his team’s next game.
“I just tried to tie up the guy and make sure no one else got involved,” said a perplexed Harrington. “It was like any other double minor for roughing or delay of game, … That was unbelievable.”
Lucia was equally upset with the call.
“I don’t have a problem if a guy gets thrown out for a legitimate fight,” Lucia said. “But that wasn’t.”
In the early going, the Gophers’ snipers were neutralized by penalties, but Minnesota’s offense sprang to life after killing three straight Niagara power plays, and the Gophers stunned the Purple Eagles with three goals in a three-minute span late in the first period.
First, after a bench minor for too many men on Niagara, Danny Irmen squeezed a sharp-angle shot through Van Nynatten’s five-hole at 15:59.
Less than a minute later, Minnesota’s Tom Pohl steamed up the right side and fired a waist-high shot that looked like an easy save, but Sertich got his stickblade out to redirect the puck past Van Nynatten, who had no chance.
Finally, with the Gophers again on the power play after a hold on Williamson, Mike Howe scored his 11th goal of the season to build a 3-0 advantage. Kris Chucko’s one-timer was saved, but Howe easily put away the rebound at 18:53.
“Next thing you know, you look up at the clock and we’re down 3-0,” said Burkholder.
The Purple Eagles showed life to start the second period, but a breakaway by Sean Bentivoglio went for naught as the junior lost the puck under duress from Mike Vannelli just outside the crease.
A Randy Harris penalty then put Minnesota the power play again, and a blast by Phil Kessel missed the cage completely, but a bounce of the puck off the rear boards found Goligoski’s stick. The sophomore defenseman deposited his fourth goal of the year into the open net at 2:49.
Minutes later, Guyer was hauled down by Bentivoglio in front of the Niagara net for a penalty shot, but Van Nynatten closed the pads on Guyer’s attempt to go five-hole.
For the second straight night, Ted Cook got Niagara on the board. With the Purple Eagles on the power play, putting away a loose puck after a Harrington block for his team-leading 12th goal of the year at 10:42.
Ben Gordon made it 5-1 Minnesota at 15:14 of the second, as the sophomore scored from a hard angle off the rebound of Howe’s shot. Harrington earned the second assist, his second of the game and team-leading 18th of the year.
Irmen and Sertich then capped off the scoring in the third period. Irmen’s goal came at 13:12, and Sertich’s was seconds later to make the final score 7-1.
Both teams return to conference play next weekend. Minnesota hosts North Dakota for a key WCHA series, while Niagara visits Air Force in CHA action.