MINNEAPOLIS — After being swept at Denver last week, the Minnesota Golden Gophers found their five-point WCHA lead had slipped to just one point. They also found themselves on the bubble in the PairWise, and were facing a hot Bemidji State team. The Beavers were 4-1-1 in their last 6 games.
“I was really pleased with the way our guys responded after a tough weekend last week,” said Gophers coach Don Lucia.
The Gophers needed a good weekend, and winning on Friday was critical.
“You can’t have a good weekend without winning on Friday,” said Lucia.
The Gophers dominated play at both ends of the ice. The Beavers did not have an answer for Minnesota’s top line, which tallied all three Gophers goals. It was a complete team effort.
“They outworked us, they outskilled us,” said Beavers coach Tom Serratore. “I thought they backchecked unbelievably. They played possessed tonight. That top line, we just could not handle them.”
Zach Budish netted two goals, and Nick Bjugstad scored the third.
“It was a good team effort all around, and I think it was one of our better games,” commented Bjugstad.
The Gophers possessed the puck for most of the game outshooting Bemidji 36-13. They managed to stay out of the penalty box.
“Last Saturday, we took three penalties in the third period, and ultimately it cost us two goals and maybe a chance to a game,” said Lucia.
Kent Patterson’s shutout gave him seven on the year.
“I thought we played hard, we took care of the puck, and Kent made a couple key saves; he was aggressive.” said Lucia.
The biggest save for Patterson came with two minutes left in the first, where he stonewalled Darcy Findlay’s one-time shot from five feet away.
Minnesota started fast, scoring one minute into the game on a tip by Budish. Mark Alt took the shot from the right blue line. Budish, who was camped in front of Dan Bakala, tipped the puck into the far low corner.
Budish got his second goal of the game at 9:13 on a rebound shot by Bjugstad. Bjugstad carried the puck up the lane and powered around Matt Prapavessis, getting off a close-range shot on Bakala. The rebound came straight back out front and was buried high just under the cross bar.
Bjugstad made it 3-0 seven minutes into the second on a power-play goal. It marked the seventh time this year Bjugstad has tallied with the extra attacker, and his 22nd goal of the season, keeping him tied with Reilly Smith of Miami.
The game was the first time Bemidji played against Minnesota at Mariucci as a member of the WCHA.
The same two teams play at Mariucci Saturday night at 7:05.