MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota got off to a slow start Friday, but made up for it with a strong performance from sophomore goaltender Adam Wilcox and a balanced scoring attack.
No. 19 Minnesota-Duluth (5-5-1, 2-2-0 NCHC) may have scored the first goal Friday, but the Gophers marched back and scored six unanswered goals en route to a 6-1 win in the first game of the series.
“I thought the first 10 minutes obviously we came out and we did what we needed to do,” Bulldogs coach Scott Sandelin said. “I don’t know if we forgot that there was another part of the game to play.”
Bulldogs sophomore forward Charlie Sampair crashed the net and then cashed in on a rebound to give his team the lead at the 4:19 mark in the first period.
With the way Minnesota-Duluth came out, Gophers coach Don Lucia said his team was probably fortunate it only went down one goal. He said the team talked about how it had to get better during the first timeout.
“They were winning the races to loose pucks and they were the more assertive team and they were the better team at that point,” Lucia said.
No. 1 Minnesota (9-1-1, 0-0-0 Big Ten) was able to find a rhythm late in the period, scoring three goals in less than three minutes.
Freshman forward Taylor Cammarata won the race to the puck in the neutral zone and found sophomore A.J. Michaelson waiting at the backdoor for Minnesota’s first goal.
“I think us getting that first goal kind of got us going a little bit,” Lucia said.
The two following goals, one from senior Tom Serratore and one from freshman Justin Kloos, came from two different lines. Minnesota had goals from all four lines. It also had a goal from a defenseman.
“Six different guys scored a goal; That’s kind of our team, that’s the way it has to be,” Lucia said.
Junior forward Kyle Rau tapped in the fourth goal for Minnesota in the second period after junior Sam Warning’s wraparound attempt. It was Rau’s second goal of the season and his first since the team’s first game.
The second period was penalty-filled with each team being sent to the box four times. The game’s physicality seemed to escalate.
“Once the game gets out of reach or whatever you want to call it, things happen like that,” Rau said. “We knew it was coming, they knew it was coming.”
Minnesota and Minnesota-Duluth combined for 16 penalties on the night.
The only power-play goal came from freshman defenseman Michael Brodzinski at the 17:07 mark in the second period. Although the Bulldogs didn’t score on the power play, Lucia said the Gophers gave them too many opportunities.
Wilcox made a career-high 36 saves for the Gophers, and Lucia said they need to tighten things up because they relied on him too much.
Though the two teams are no longer WCHA foes, the rivalry was alive and well Friday night. Sandelin said he didn’t notice any difference in the rivalry, despite the shift in conferences. State pride will be on the line once again Sunday in the series rematch.