CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. -- The opening game of Minnesota's first weekend series in Boston in ten years was a success.
The third-ranked Golden Gophers started strong and finished stronger, scoring three times in the third period for a 6-2 win over No. 12 Boston College on Friday night at Kelley Rink.
The victory was Minnesota's eighth of the season but its first in three true road games so far. Head coach Don Lucia said he was much happier with his team's effort than in recent games en route to its first win since Nov. 9 at Notre Dame.
"I thought we played much harder than we what we played in the last few games and that's where the foundation begins," the 16th-year Gopher head coach said. "I thought we played a pretty smart, patient game."
After a strong few minutes of offensive pressure, the Gophers got on the scoreboard first at the 15:57 mark of the first period. BC sophomore Thatcher Demko made a great save on sophomore Justin Kloos' breakaway but senior Sam Warning was on the spot right on the crease to put the rebound home.
BC had some offensive chances, mostly off the power play on which it went 0-for-3 over the first couple periods. Most of its remaining looks were held to the outside, allowing Minnesota junior goaltender Adam Wilcox to make 24 relatively easy saves on the 26 shots he saw.
"One of the things we did a pretty good job of is we didn't give them many second chance opportunities," Lucia said. "When you watch BC over the years, they're as good as anybody of attacking the net to the blue paint and getting second-shot opportunities. We did a better job of that, just digging in a little bit harder than we had."
One of its best chances in the opening stanza came shorthanded in the opening period as freshman defenseman Noah Hanifin coasted ahead for a backhanded shot that went just wide of Wilcox.
Minnesota scored twice in the final five minutes of the second period to take command heading into the intermission. Demko misplayed the puck badly behind his net at 17:32, allowing sophomore Vinni Lettieri to take control easily and bang the puck home from out front for his first point of the season.
Just 50 seconds later, senior defenseman Ben Marshall scored on a long, off-angle slapper from the left side that beat Demko high to his glove to give the visitors a 3-0 lead.
BC was strong out of the gate in the third, scoring twice on 11 total shots on goal, both in the first six-plus minutes. Freshman Alex Tuch forced a turnover just inside the offensive blue line and made a great play to keep control for his fifth goal of the season, putting BC on the board at 3:33.
At the 6:05 mark, sophomore Adam Gilmour fed a beautiful centering pass to senior Destry Straight for his fifth of the year. Straight drove down the slot and redirected the pass past Wilcox's left post.
"From our perspective, down 3-0 going into the third, I thought we showed a lot of resolve," BC head coach Jerry York said. "I liked how we got back to 3-2. That was a 3-0 game and they were kind of feeling pretty good; I thought we battled back there."
Minnesota extended its lead right back to two goals at the 9:43 mark as sophomore defenseman Jake Bischoff took a pass from senior Kyle Rau for a snapper that clanked the left post and bounced into the back of Demko's net.
"I thought we were in good shape even going into the third period," Lucia said, "but we just had to get back to playing the game the right way."
Lettieri -- whose growth has been evident to Lucia and the coaching staff -- finished off the first multi-goal game and second multi-point effort of his career at 13:07 as he walked in from the right circle to beat Demko.
Redshirt sophomore Connor Reilly finished the scoring at 19:24, gliding into the offensive zone before hitting the empty net for his fourth goal of the season.
"I thought as a team, we played pretty well and much better than we'd played in a while," Lucia commented. "I think we're a little more veteran than they are, and some guys made a play and scored some goals tonight."
The Gophers head across Beantown for a Saturday night contest at Northeastern, its first at Matthews Arena since Nov. 13, 1987. BC heads south to Providence to resume Hockey East play.