-After a rough start to the season, Minnesota needed a night like this. It certainly helps when when the opponent isn't quite the caliber of a Minnesota Duluth. But the Gophers got a friendly bounce early when a high shot from Justin Kloos bounced off the cross bar and landed in the crease for Tommy Novak to tap in for a goal. Add in a free cookie from goalie Derick Roy on the second goal and suddenly things didn't look quite so bad for the Gophers. They built an early lead and never looked to be in any sort of danger tonight. It was bound to happen eventually, but it's good for this team to get a little confidence.
-If there was a positive for Northeastern, at least they've figured out who their goalie is. Derick Roy came into the game with an abysmal .837 save percentage on the season and didn't help his numbers at all by allowing three goals on four shots, including an extremely soft second goal. His replacement, freshman Ryan Ruck had only stopped six shots in 16 minutes of relief work for Roy heading into this game, but tonight put him to the test and he gave a fantastic performance tonight to keep the score what it was until giving up a late goal. Ruck made a few very good saves, and this highlight reel save among his 21 saves tonight. There's no question Ruck should be the starter tomorrow evening.
-Minnesota rookie goalie Eric Schierhorn was fine in his first three collegiate starts, but it's hard to get too excited when his record was 0-3-0. Tonight stands as his breakout performance. Only 23 saves doesn't do justice to how well he played. He made a big glove save early on Dylan Sikura when it was still a 0-0 game and made a nice save on a Kevin Roy breakaway later in the first period. He made two more Grade-A stops with his right pad in the second period. Schierhorn can sometimes look a little scrambly in the crease when he gets into trouble, attempting to make up for his lack of size, but he was effective here tonight, and I have zero concern that he can be a solid #1 goalie at the college level. Even with Minnesota's early scoring woes, that was always going to be the number one concern for the Gophers heading into this year. Anybody(well, everybody) in college hockey can win while not scoring goals; nobody wins with a bad goalie. Schierhorn will give his team a chance to win a lot of games this year.
-The three early goals by Minnesota pretty much meant that this game was over after the first period. After that, Minnesota was content to sit back and take advantage of the fact that there was no way Northeastern was scoring three goals. The Huskies had a few chances, but for the most part, Minnesota kept things locked down and Northeastern didn't quite have the ability to break through the Minnesota defense. It made for ugly, boring hockey for the final forty minutes, but it's hard to argue with the effectiveness of it.
-Northeastern went 0-fer on three clear-cut breakaways as they tried to cut into Minnesota's 3-0 lead. They had the puck on the stick of the right guys too. Kevin Roy had one in the first period when he tried to slip a backhand between Schierhorn's legs, which was stopped. Adam Gaudette caught Minnesota on a long change in the second period, but lost the puck as he tried to make a move back to his forehand, and Sam Kurker rang a shorthanded breakaway off the pipe at the end of the second period. Like when Minnesota was going through their offensive struggles early, Northeastern probably isn't a good team, but they're also not as bad as they look.
-Northeastern also had six power plays, including a four-minute extended power play and a 5x3. But the Huskies couldn't find the back of the net on any of their opportunities. There seemed to be a lot of indecisiveness and bad decision-making, which is understandable for a team that has struggled for offense like Northeastern has.
Shots on goal: MINN:8- 9-9-26 NU: 8-9-6-23
Even strength shot attempts: MINN: 18-4-17-39-54.9% NU: 12-7-13-32-45.1%
Prime scoring area attempts: MINN: 7-5-9-23 NU: 10-7-10-27
What do the numbers tell us?
Minnesota had the slight edge in play at 5-on-5, but the first period was not as lopsided as the score indicated, outside of the play in goal, which is obviously important. The second period was a penalty-fest as evidenced by a combined 11 total shot attempts at even-strength that period. Also, Minnesota is still taking a lot of shots from the perimeter and aren't getting much in the way of second chance opportunities. The circumstances are different because with a 3-0 lead, they didn't need to, but it's something to watch for in the future.
6:48 Tommy Novak from Justin Kloos and Michael Brodzinski (power play) 1-0 Minnesota
Kloos took a high wrist from the left point that beat Roy cleanly but hit off the cross bar. The puck bounced back into the crease where Novak shoveled it into the empty net for his first collegiate goal.
8:50 Jack Glover from Hudson Fasching 2-0 Minnesota
Glover took a low, harmless looking wrist shot along the ice from the right circle that found the five hole of Roy for the goal.
11:50 Tyler Sheehy from Jack Sadek 3-0 Minnesota
Sadek brough the puck into the zone on a rush and dropped it off to Sheehy who first a wrist shot from the right circle that beat Roy to the far side.
17:09 Hudson Fasching from Tommy Novak and Leon Bristedt 4-0 Minnesota
Novak had the puck behind the net and fed it out to Fasching on the doorstep of the crease. Fasching's quick low shot beat Ruck for the goal.