Minnesota's freshmen stepped up big in their first road trip.
Justin Kloos scored three points (1G-2A) Saturday night as #3 University of Minnesota defeated Bemidji State 5-1 at the Sanford Center. Fellow freshman forward Taylor Cammarata (New York Islanders) scored his first collegiate goal in the second period. Junior Sam Warning, meanwhile, continued his torrid start to the year with a pair of goals against the Beavers.
The Gophers improved to 4-0-0 this season with the two-game sweep.
Warning now has five goals in four games this season and has scored in every game. He had eight in 23 games last season.
Bemidji State (0-3-1) scored early for the second consecutive night. Jeff Jubinville was left uncovered following the end of a BSU power play and beat Adam Wilcox (Tampa Bay Lightning) short-side just 2:37 into Saturday's game. Although Minnesota gave up the first goal for the third straight game, it was the only shot Wilcox, who made 24 saves, was unable to keep out of the net.
"I thought Bemidji came out extremely hard," University of Minnesota head coach Don Lucia said.
The Beavers appeared to be heading into the locker room with the 1-0 lead before Warning scored his first of the game on what can only be described as a chip shot from the half-wall with 2:55 left in the period. Minnesota struggled in the first period to break through the Bemidji State defense. BSU goalie Andrew Walsh had few, if any, difficult saves.
Matters were made worse for the Gophers in the first period. Minnesota was missing co-captain Kyle Rau (Florida Panthers) for most of the period after he was cut. Still, the junior forward returned for the second period and played the rest of the game.
"It didn't affect me too much," Warning said about playing without Rau during the first period. "We just have so much depth that we can play with guys out."
Whether it was Rau's return or head coach Don Lucia's intermission talk or something else, the Gophers looked like a different team in the second period. Breakouts were easier. Wilcox wasn't bombarded with Grade A chances. Eventually Cammarata, last season's USHL Player of the Year, got the puck off the boards and buried it past Walsh to give Minnesota a 2-1 lead with 8:20 remaining.
Warning then added his second goal of the game less than two minutes later and the rout was on for Minnesota.
Mike Reilly (Columbus Blue Jackets) scored his
first second goal of the season 4:57 into the third when his wrist shot from the blue line beat Walsh, who made 26 saves Saturday. Kloos made it 5-1 with 4:07 remaining after kicking the puck to his stick and scoring his second goal of the season in the slot.
For a game that featured six goals, neither team had any power play success. Minnesota went 0-5 with the man advantage. Bemidji State's power play was 0-4 on Saturday.
That (and the 11 goals scored in two games) aside, things got better for the Gophers as the game continued.Saturday started with Hudson Fasching (Los Angeles Kings) taking a penalty. By the end of the game, Minnesota's freshmen forwards were able to forecheck and contain Bemidji State in the BSU zone.
Early in the year, that is something you want to see from the freshmen.
Bemidji State begins WCHA play next weekend against longtime foe Alabama-Huntsville in Huntsville.
Minnesota gets a test next weekend when Boston College (2-1-0) comes to town for two games Friday and Sunday. The Eagles beat #2 Wisconsin 9-2 on Friday and have scored 16 goals in the last two games. The Gophers defeated BC 8-1 last December at Mariucci Arena, however, that is sure to be in the back of Boston College's minds.
Both games next weekend are at Mariucci Arena. Friday's game begins at 7:00 p.m. and airs on BTN. Sunday's game starts at 1:00 p.m. and airs on Fox Sports North.
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Nathan Wells is a college hockey columnist for SB Nation and College Hockey News. You can also follow him on Twitter -- Follow @gopherstate