It's not often a freshman's first collegiate goal takes a back seat in a game, let alone a period. That was the case Friday night in Minneapolis.
#5 Minnesota (1-0-0) scored three goals in the second period against Mercyhurst (0-1-0) to break the game open en route to a 6-0 victory at Mariucci Arena in the second Ice Breaker Tournament semifinal.
Six different players tallied goals for the team, which lost four of its top five scorers last season. Sam Warning and Kyle Rau (Florida Panthers draft pick) each scored three points (1G-2A) for the Gophers. Freshmen Justin Kloos and Michael Brodzinski (San Jose Sharks) both lit the red light for the first time wearing Maroon and Gold.
"I was really impressed by the Gophers. We're clearly a work in progress, we have a lot of work to do on our end," Mercyhurst head coach Rick Gotkin said about his team, picked to finish second in Atlantic Hockey, after the game. "We showed some signs and lost 6-0, but it didn't feel like a 6-0 game.
"We've played teams like Minnesota in the past where we couldn't get the puck past the red line. It felt like we had some chances and some looks at 1-0, 2-0," Gotkin said. "You feel like if you can score one maybe if you can get back in it."
Warning, whose diving goal had to be reviewed to count, and Kloos made it 4-0 for the home team at the end of the second. At one point in the period the Gophers out-shot Mercyhurst 12-0 over an 8 minute period. The Lakers struggled to keep up on the Olympic ice sheet against a faster team. A step or two behind meant that they were the team now taking penalties.
The third period belonged to the Minnesota freshman. Hudson Fasching (Los Angeles Kings) found Mike Reilly (Columbus)
"He reminds me of (former Minnesota captain and the last player to wear #24 Zach) Budish, but he has a little more hands on him," Warning said about Fasching.
Then Brodzinski scored his first collegiate goal with 1:40 left on a wrist shot that beat Tibbett. It was the cherry on top of a solid start on both ends of the ice for the freshman defenseman.
"I thought he looked good," said Wilcox, who made 25 saves Friday for his 4th career shutout, about Brodzinski. "You never know what to expect coming in on D. He played the puck well behind the net. He was solid blocking shots, he was standing D side and obviously the goal is always nice in the first game."
With the win the Gophers face New Hampshire for the Ice Breaker Tournament championship tomorrow night (October 12) at 7:00 p.m. CT. The Wildcats defeated Clarkson 4-1 in the other semifinal (the Golden Knights play Mercyhurst at 4:00 p.m).
Tomorrow night is an early season test for Minnesota. It's one to see if tonight should be remembered for more than just a single goal and maybe the fact the Gopher scoring depth showed up against Mercyhurst.
"We'll find out tomorrow.," Lucia said. "We moved up and down the rink pretty good tonight, but at the same time how is conditioning going to factor in this early in the season? The opening night is a little more electric, game 1, so we have to come out with the same energy and play a team that has probably better team speed."
-Ben Marshall left the game with 4 minutes left after taking a shot off his right wrist. An update wasn't available after the game.
-Lucia on Seth's goal: "Ambroz could probably try that 100 times and I don't think it'd work. He's not twinkletoes."
-An underrated story Friday is Minnesota going 5 for 5 killing penalties. The Gophers were
-Of the announced crowd, Mariucci was maybe 2/3 full.
-Kloos' goal is the first from a Minnesota #25 since Jerrid Reinholz on March 12, 2005.
Tomorrow's Ice Breaker championship game starts at 7:00 p.m. CT. It airs on Fox Sports North Plus.
Follow SB Nation College Hockey on Twitter -- Follow @sbncollegepuck
Nathan Wells is a college hockey columnist for SB Nation and College Hockey News. You can also follow him on Twitter -- Follow @gopherstate