HOUGHTON, Mich. — Mike Hoeffel, who hadn’t scored a goal in five games, broke through in a big way against the Michigan Tech Huskies, as the senior scored twice to lead the No. 19 Minnesota Golden Gophers to a 6-4 win Friday night over the Michigan Tech Huskies at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena. Gophers captain Jay Barriball added three assists in the game.
“I thought that we good, fresh legs,” said Gophers head coach Don Lucia. “The guys did a lot of good things tonight.”
It took the Gophers (6-4-1 overall, 4-4-1 in the WCHA) just 2:02 to strike as freshman winger Max Gardiner tipped a shot from junior center Taylor Matson past Huskies goaltender Kevin Genoe. Junior defenseman Aaron Ness assisted on the goal.
“Our first 10 minutes of the game weren’t good,” said Huskies head coach Jamie Russell. “I thought we had some passengers tonight … guys who didn’t move their feet.”
Hoeffel got on the board about three minutes later after taking a pass from freshman center Erik Haula and burying a shot behind Genoe. Barriball also assisted on the goal.
“Every time you are on the road, it’s important to get a good first five minutes,” said Hoeffel. “I don’t know what it is, but I just enjoy playing here.”
On one of their next offensive possessions, senior defenseman Cade Fairchild fired a shot at Genoe that Hoeffel redirected into the back of the net at 7:28. Barriball notched his second assist on the goal as well.
The Huskies (3-5-1, 1-5-1) roared to life, scoring a pair of power-play markers before the opening period came to a close.
The first goal came off the stick of freshman winger Ryan Furne. The puck bounced around and right to Furne in front of Gophers goalie Kent Patterson. Furne waited until his shooting lane opened up, and he fired the shot home at 9:53.
Freshman winger Milos Gordic scored his team-leading fifth goal of the season at 18:34 to pull the Huskies within one. Gordic slapped a rebound off a shot from freshman center Jacob Johnstone. Furne also assisted on the goal.
“I was very pleased [with the power play],” said Russell. “To go 2-for-3 with guys that were in new spots I thought did a good job of getting us back in the hockey game.”
Scoring two power play goals about six minutes apart in the second period, junior winger Jake Hansen just about put the Huskies away.
Hansen’s first goal, at 6:11, was a perfect tip-in off a shot from Fairchild. Barriball found Fairchild at the point for his final point of the night.
Hansen’s second goal 5:58 later would prove to be the game-winner as he took a pass from Hoeffel below the goal line and buried a one-timer that Genoe couldn’t react to quick enough.
The Huskies pulled back within two as Gordic notched his second goal of the night at 13:49 of the third. Furne and sophomore defenseman Carl Nielsen both assisted on the goal.
Senior winger Jacob Cepis iced the game for the Gophers at 15:22. Cepis gobbled up a rebound off a shot from sophomore defenseman Seth Helgeson and put it in the back of the net. Freshman winger Nick Bjugstad picked up an assist on the goal as well.
The Huskies again pulled within two at 19:16 as freshman center Daniel Holmberg tipped a shot from sophomore defenseman Steven Seigo past Patterson. That was as close as the Huskies could get, though.
Despite surrendering four goals, Patterson picked up his fifth win of the season, masking 19 stops. Genoe was forced to make 44 stops for the Huskies.
The Huskies went two-for-three on the man advantage while the Gophers finished two-for-four.
Hoeffel had only scored one goal in his last seven games coming into the game.
Michigan Tech was without injured assistant captain Brett Olson and senior center Eric Kattelus, who has been removed from the team.