MINNEAPOLIS — The No. 2 Minnesota Golden Gophers rebounded to split the weekend series against the Michigan Tech Huskies, getting four third period goals to win 6-2.
“It was a great feeling,” said Mark Alt, who ignited the flurry. “We struggled last night. We had a long meeting today and knew what we had to do.”
The critical sequence in the game came after Minnesota almost killed a five-minute major by Blake Thompson for contact to the head. Daniel Sova scored with 52 seconds left in the penalty, tying the game at 2-2 at 1:26 of the third.
What should have given the Huskies momentum seemed to ignite the Gophers, as they netted four goals on 16 shots in the third. The explosion started when Alt hammered a one-timer from the top right corner.
“He had the big goal tonight, the third goal,” said Gophers coach Don Lucia. “They scored on their power play on that five-minute major late, and then we responded soon after. It was a nice one-time (shot). It was a nice hard shot.”
“That was the turning point of the game,” said Huskies coach Mel Pearson. “We actually tied the game. I thought that would give us more momentum. It actually gave them momentum; they scored that third goal. Then the crowd got into the game. It just seemed to energize their team.”
The Gophers got a critical separation goal on a rebound by Nick Bjugstad at 9:59. Joe Miller notched his first goal of the year on another rebound shot from Alt.
The game deteriorated into a scrum with about two minutes left, with 83 Minutes of penalties and short fuses by coaches and players. It got to the point where the officials did not want the players to shake hands at the end of the game. Pearson talked with Lucia and called his players back on the ice to shake hands.
“It was an emotional game at the end,” remarked Pearson. “We should shake hands and show good sportsmanship. We got beat by the better team tonight. There is no reason you should not shake hands.”
The Gophers started the game out flying, running off seven unanswered shots. The seventh shot found the back of the net, giving them the early lead at 7:37 when Kyle Rau tapped in a rebound shot from Mark Alt.
Michigan Tech called a team timeout and it seemed to settle down. The Huskies proceeded to outshoot Minnesota, 12-7, for the duration of the first, tying the game at 16:35 on a power-play goal by Jordan Baker, who tapped in a diagonal shot from the top of the right circle from Milos Gordic.
Minnesota went up 2-1 at 12:50 on a Jake Hansen tip-in on a shot by Erik Haula. Hansen also closed out the scoring on a power play at 18:14 of the third.
Both teams are off the next two weekends. The Huskies resume play in Detroit at the GLI versus Michigan State on December 29, while Minnesota faces Niagara for the first round of the Mariucci Classic on December 30.