Saturday night's opener at Mariucci Arena between University of Minnesota and University of Lethbridge was an exhibition game that had no bearing on either team's record.
Someone forgot to tell the two teams on the ice.
Three freshmen - Hudson Fasching (Los Angeles Kings draft pick), Michael Brodzinski (San Jose Sharks) and Taylor Cammarata (New York Islanders) - scored for the Gophers in a 5-1 win overshadowed by a physical second period that saw four players ejected and 74 minutes of penalties issued.
"That was a little shocking," said Gopher junior forward Travis Boyd (Washington Capitals), who scored a goal and added an assist, after the game. "We know that Canadian teams are going to play a little physical, but I don't know if we expected (Lethbridge) to play that chippy. Kind of dirty almost."
Fasching opened up the scoring 6:29 into the game when the Apple Valley, MN native drilled home a Ben Marshall (Detroit Red Wings) rebound past Pronghorns goaltender Dylan Tait. It was the lone shot Tait, who made 41 saves Saturday, gave up despite facing 21 shots and two Gopher power plays in the opening period.
"(Tait) made a lot of good saves tonight," Minnesota head coach Don Lucia said. "We shot a few in his glove. We had to work hard to beat him, which is fine.
Lethbridge would tie things up 1-1 just 4 seconds into its first power play. A shot by David McMullen hit the post and Guillaume Naud was there on the doorstep to beat Gopher goalie Michael Shibrowski 7:50 into the second period.
That was all Lethbridge was able to get Saturday. Boyd and Brodzinski scored power play goals after Naud in the second to put Minnesota ahead 3-1 at the end of the period. Cammarata and sophomore Ryan Reilly added goals in the third for the 5-1 final score.
Underneath the goals, however, were a number of scraps and slashes. Whenever both teams had the chance to get physical they did. Five players - three on Lethbridge and both Marshall and redshirt freshman Connor Reilly - received game misconducts in Saturday's game.
Co-captain Kyle Rau (Florida Panthers), who is known for his chippy play, was in the center of it all. The 5'8", 173 lbs junior took on 6'0" 200 lbs Cason Machacek with 7:27 left in the second. He received a two minute roughing minor while Machacek removed Rau's helmet and was given a misconduct for facemasking. The Longhorns targeted Rau the second he came out of the box, but Marshall came over to his defense.
"I appreciate Marshall sticking up for me," said Rau, who didn't see the play in question. Marshall was ejected for spearing Hayden Rintoul.
From there it was like the Wild West. Rintoul was given a misconduct for facemasking as did Reilly in a separate scrum 2 minutes later. The Gophers spent 80% of the game in the Lethbridge zone, but the team also was also ending up in scrums the same amount.
For a game that didn't count.
Overall Lucia was happy with the way the 7 Minnesota freshmen played Saturday night. There wasn't as much to take away defensively, but that's to be expected in a game where the Gophers out-shot Lethbridge 46-12.
"We'll find out more about (the defense) next weekend," he said.
Instead, Minnesota found out about its physicality.
"It was a good dry run for us," Lucia said. "But it's going to get more difficult for us next week."
-The two teams combined for 105 penalty minutes Lethbridge had 15 penalties for 63 minutes while Minnesota had 10 for 42.
-Minnesota played all 3 of its goalies Saturday. Redshirt freshman Ryan Coyne got a nice ovation when he entered with 5 minutes left in the third.
-Sam Warning missed tonight's game. Lucia said after the game that he expects the junior forward back next week for the Ice Breaker.
-The Gophers open the regular season Friday night against Mercyhurst at 7:00 p.m. CT. The winner between Minnesota and the Lakers, who were picked to win Atlantic Hockey this season, faces the winner of Clarkson and New Hampshire (as do the losers).
UL 0 - 1 - 0 -- 1
UMN 1 - 2 - 2 -- 5
MINNESOTA Hudson Fasching (1) (Rau, Marshall 6:29)
LETHBRIDGE Guillaume Naud (1) (David McMullen 7:50 PP)
MINNESOTA Travis Boyd (1) (Marshall, C. Reilly 14:55 PP)
MINNESOTA Michael Brodzinski (1) (Boyd, Fasching 19:04 PP)
MINNESOTA Taylor Cammarata (1) (Kloos 6:49)
MINNESOTA Ryan Reilly (1) (A.J. Michaelson, Brady Skjei 16:58)
Shots on Goal:
Minnesota: 21 - 17 - 8 (47)
Lethbridge: 4 - 2 - 6 (12)
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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