Thanks in large part to its defense the Gophers begin the year by breaking a long Alaska-Anchorage unbeaten streak.
Minnesota (1-0-0, 0-0-0-0 Big Ten) defeated the Seawolves 6-0 at Sullivan Arena. Three of the first four Gophers goals came from by defensemen, led by senior Jake Bischoff’s first multi-goal game. Sophomore forward Brent Gates, Jr. also scored two goals to begin the year after finishing last season with three total.
Alaska-Anchorage (0-1-0, 0-0-0-0 WCHA) had gone 12-0-3 in its last 15 season openers. The home team had several opportunities with four power plays in the first 27 minutes and five total, but could not solve sophomore goaltender Eric Schierhorn. In his first game at home since pee wees, the Anchorage native made 14 saves for his fourth career shutout.
Freshman defenseman Ryan Zuhlsdorf got his team off on the right foot during the first period of his college debut with his first collegiate goal. Trailing on an odd-man rush, Zuhlsdorf, who did not score a goal in the USHL last season, scored 11:42 into the game when Connor Reilly dropped a pass back to him.
Bischoff scored 1:35 into 1:35 into the second period to make it 2-0 Minnesota. Gates gave the Gophers a 3-0 lead late in the period. Gates did not hesitate shooting a Jack Ramsey pass and beat Seawolves goalie Olivier Mantha, who made 33 saves Friday on 39 shots.
Thanks in large part to a five minute major on Dylan Hubbs Minnesota peppered Mantha with shots throughout the second half of the game, out-shooting the Seawolves 19-4 during the second period.
Bischoff recovered from being hit by Hubbs to score his second goal of the game 1:24 into the third period. Freshman Rem Pitlick scored with 5:14 remaining from along the wall for his first collegiate goal and Gates added his second just over a minute later
Reilly and Tyler Sheehy each had three assists
Alaska-Anchorage plays Alaska tomorrow evening at Sullivan Arena in a non-conference game between the two WCHA teams. Minnesota has Saturday off before facing Alaska at 7:00 pm CT.
Nathan Wells is a college hockey columnist for SB Nation mostly covering both the University of Minnesota and Big Ten. You can also follow him on Twitter -- Follow @gopherstate