MINNEAPOLIS — The No. 2 Minnesota Golden Gophers’ special teams dominated in 4-1 over No. 9 Colorado College at home tonight. The Gophers went 3-for-4 on their power play while holding the Tigers without a power-play goal in five chances.
“It was a good team win,” commented Minnesota coach Don Lucia. “They spread it out, moved it around and let the puck do the work.”
Meanwhile, the Tigers have struggled of late on special teams, going 2-for-33 on the power play and giving up 7 goals on 21 penalty kills in their last five games, a stretch that has seen the team go 1-3-1.
“Up until 3-4 games ago, we were doing good on the penalty kill,” said Tigers’ coach Scott Owens. “We are just trying to pick up a win or two before the break.”
The Gophers’ Alex Kangas ended a stretch of hockey he would like to forget. Prior to his last three games, Kangas had given up four goals only twice in 42 career games as the goaltender for Minnesota. In his last three, he allowed four or more goals, a stretch where his team went 0-2-1.
“They looked fresh after the long break,” remarked Owens on the Gophers’ play after their extended finals break.
Colorado College’s big chance to tighten up the game came on a five-on-three power play midway through the third period. The Tigers failed to get the puck past Kangas and the Gophers’ penalty kill. As the second penalty expired, Tim Hall slid the puck behind Kangas across the goal crease into the far sidewall.
The Gophers Nico Sacchetti finished off the scoring at 18:37 of the third, cementing the game with his first goal as a Gopher.
The game began with the Tigers dominating the first five minutes of play, out-shooting the Gophers 4-0, but they failed to get the puck past Kangas.
Minnesota found momentum in the middle of the first, fueled by a power-play goal at 6:21 by Mike Hoeffel. Hoeffel fired a wrister from the top of the right circle past Tigers’ goalie Richard Bachman, who had lost his stick on the play.
Just 62 seconds later, Minnesota freshman Jake Hansen scored his first collegiate goal. Hansen re-directed a no-look backhand pass from Patrick White from the far left corner through the five-hole of Bachman.
“It was a great pass by White,” commented Hansen on the play.
Minnesota controlled the play for the next 10 minutes, notching two goals on nine consecutive shots.
The play evolved to end-to-end action during the last seven minutes of the period.
CC scored at 13:59 when Bill Sweat broke his stick on a one-timer from the blue line. The puck went off-speed to the right of a screen just under Kangas’ glove hand.
Cade Fairchild put the Gophers up 3-1 at 10:06 of the second on a power-play goal. Bachman was screened on the play and Fairchild wristed the puck high past his blocker.
Concern was raised when Gophers’ forward Jordan Schroeder went headfirst into the boards early in the second period. The Gophers are already skating without forwards Jay Barriball, Mike Carman and Taylor Matson
Schroeder was in on a partial breakaway when he lost his balance trying to put a shot on net. The puck went wide left and Jordan slid head first into the boards. He skated back to the bench.
“He hit it pretty hard; he is a tough kid,” remarked Lucia on the play.
The two teams face-off Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m. at Mariucci.