MINNEAPOLIS, Minn — Eight ranked Minnesota rolled to a 7-1 win over Wayne State with a second period outburst led by sophomore forward Blake Wheeler.
The highly touted Gopher forward opened the second period flood gates extending the Gopher lead to 3-0 on a backhander at 8:15. He picked the puck up at the top of the left circle skated toward the middle of the zone and threw the backhand on net past Wayne State keeper Will Hooper.
Three Minnesota freshmen Ryan Flynn, Brian Schack and Mike Carman notched their first career points on the next goal at 11:40 with Flynn getting the goal.
The Gophers’ Ryan Stoa took a cross checking penalty on the ensuing face-off and Wayne State scored on the power play making it 4-1 as Jason Bloomingburg buried a rebound past Jeff Frazee.
Freshman sparkplug Jay Barriball capped the four minute outburst with a goal at 12:30 extending the lead back to four.
“I liked seeing us score some goals around the net. Score in the dirty areas.” remarked Minnesota’s Coach Don Lucia.
Wayne state hoped to salvage something out of the second period with a 5 on 3 late, but manage to level the ice instead as Mike Forgie took a slashing penalty in the offensive zone.
Wheeler notched his second of the period 4 on 4 at 18:42 putting the game out of reach also on the backhand.
“I don’t know if I ever have scored two goals on the backhand before,” remarked Wheeler.
About the only concerning issue for the Gophers were their 0-6 (0-12 on the young season) performance on the power plays.
“We have to find some chemistry on the power-play,” added Lucia.
This is not the only chemistry the Gophers head coach is trying to find, suggesting he will juggle the lines throughout the first part of the season looking for what works.
Wayne State head coach Bill Wilkinson remarked that he tries scheduling tough non-conference games like with Minnesota.
“We try to play as many good teams as we can throughout the season. It helps us improve,” said Wilkinson. “When you’re chasing them around throughout the game it takes a lot more energy. It affects your conditioning,”
Junior defenseman Alex Goligoski opened the scoring at 8:15 of the first. Goligoski waited for the Wayne State forward to commit playing catch with fellow blue liner Erik Johnson. The lane opened and Alex found the back of the net.
Minnesota opened a two goal lead on Ben Gordon’s first goal of the season at 18:56. It was a well executed three on two with line mates Blake Wheeler and Jay Barriball. Wheeler received the pass from Barriball and drove to the left post dropping the puck back for Gordan who one-timed it.
The only scoring chance for the Warriors in the first was a short handed rush by Nate Higgens.
Frazee hesitated after coming out to the top of the circles. Higgens picked up the puck at the blue line with a Gopher defenseman trailing. Higgens slowed down enough to get the puck that the defenseman caught him and failed to get a shot on net despite Frazee being 30 feet out of position.
Wayne state failed to muster a shot in the third period.
“We better get a good nights rest,” added Wilkinson on preparing for tomorrows game.
The two teams meet again Saturday night at 7 p.m.