HOUGHTON, Mich. — Looking for a repeat performance of Friday night’s game, the No. 19 Minnesota Golden Gophers again jumped out to a lead in the opening minutes, and picked up another pair of goals from Mike Hoeffel to beat the Michigan Tech Huskies at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena Saturday night.
“For whatever reason we are getting quick starts on the road,” said Gophers head coach Don Lucia. “I thought Michigan Tech played a much better game tonight.”
Hoeffel, an assistant captain, got the Gophers on the board just 3:09 in after taking a pass from freshman center Erik Haula and firing the puck at Huskies’ goaltender Kevin Genoe. Genoe made the stop, but Hoeffel stuffed his own rebound in.
“If you can get the lead in the first five-to-10 minutes and kind of build off of that … it’s huge,” said Hoeffel. “I was just going hard to the net and had my stick down and Erik put it in a good spot.”
Genoe kept the Gophers from extending the lead about four minutes later when freshman center Nate Condon found senior winger Jacob Cepis in front of the net.
The Huskies evened the game early in the second period on the power play as co-captain Deron Cousens fired a blast that beat Gophers’ goalie Kent Patterson at 2:08. Sophomore defenseman Steven Seigo and freshman center Jacob Johnstone assisted on the goal.
The Gophers responded less than a minute later.
A Huskies defender attempted to clear the puck out of the zone, but instead he found Condon. Condon fired a shot that ricocheted off another Huskies’ defenseman and past Genoe at 2:53.
Hoeffel notched his second goal of the night and fourth of the weekend two and a half minutes later to extend the Gophers’ lead to two. Freshman defenseman Justin Holl found Hoeffel at center ice, and Hoeffel skated the puck into the offensive zone before wristing a shot into the top corner.
With a two-goal lead, Gophers’ goalie Kent Patterson took control of the defensive effort with several timely stops to keep the Gophers in charge. None was bigger than the save he made on Huskies’ forward Alex MacLeod from the hash marks with about three and a half minutes to go in the second.
Both teams struggled to get quality scoring chances for long stretches of the third period until freshman winger Tom Serratore fired a long shot that Genoe bobbled with about five and a half to play.
“Patterson was the difference tonight,” said Huskies’ head coach Jamie Russell. “I thought the whole game was a whole lot better … [but] Patterson made a number of huge saves.”
With a faceoff deep in Gophers territory and two minutes left on the clock, the Huskies pulled Genoe, looking for any bounces they could get. Patterson came up with three big saves despite his defenders icing the puck three times.
Freshman winger Nick Bjugstad scored his first career goal with one second remaining to ice the game.
Patterson came up with 30 saves for his sixth win of the season. Genoe made 32 stops in the loss.
The Huskies (3-6-2 overall, 1-6-1 in the WCHA) finished 1-for-3 on the power play while holding the Gophers (7-4-1, 5-4-1) to 0-for-2.