HOUGHTON, Mich. — Minnesota brought its own version of Winter Carnival to Houghton and the Michigan Tech campus as the Golden Gophers scored seven times en route to a 7-4 Friday night romp over the Huskies at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena.
The Gophers stormed out of the gate early in each period, scoring twice in the game’s opening 2:30, three times in the first 3:30 of period two and once in the first minute of period three.
Although Michigan Tech countered with two goals within two minutes to tie in the middle of the first period — a Chris Conner breakaway backhander and a Nick Anderson ping-pong tip-in at the top of the crease — Minnesota regained the lead with less than six minutes left in the frame and never looked back.
Forwards Ryan Potulny and Evan Kaufmann and defenseman Mike Vannelli each scored twice to pace Minnesota’s 12th win in 13 games. Potulny and Vannelli added helpers for dual three-point nights, while Ryan Stoa and Tom Pohl pitched in with two assists apiece.
Michigan Tech was led by a two-point night from Nick Anderson (one goal, 1 assist), Tyler Shelast (two assists) and Brandon Schwartz (two assists).
The Gophers’ fourth, fifth and sixth goals to open the second period — Vannelli twice and Kaufmann with his second of the night — all came on wristers from nearly the same spot in the right faceoff circle.
The quick trio of goals forced Michigan Tech coach Jamie Russell to go to his bench and replace starting netminder Michael-Lee Teslak with freshman counterpart Rob Nolan at 3:11. Combined, the host goalies faced a 43-shot barrage from the No. 1 ranked and No. 1 goal-scoring team in the nation.
At the opposite end of the ice, Minnesota goaltender Kellen Briggs stopped 16 of 20 shots to get his 15th win of the season. His record is now 15-4-2. With tonight’s victory, Minnesota jumps into a tie for first place in the WCHA with 30 points.
The series resumes Saturday with an early start at 5:07 EST to accommodate the annual, ongoing Winter Carnival festivities.