Making the most of time spent shorthanded, the Gophers leave Alaska with two victories and twelve goals.
Minnesota scored six goals for the second consecutive game to open the season, defeating Alaska by a 6-3 final score thanks in part to shorthanded goals by sophomore Tyler Sheehy and senior Justin Kloos. Twice the Nanooks were able to quickly respond and keep the game within reach. Alaska, however, could not take advantage of six power plays.
Brent Gates Jr., Vinni Lettieri and Ryan Zuhlsdorf also scored Sunday. Sophomore Eric Schierhorn made 17 saves in his hometown.
While Minnesota had an early 1:08 two-man advantage on the power play in the first period, it found more success offensively killing a penalty. On a two-on-one odd man rush with Tommy Novak, Sheehy faked the pass and his shot got past Nanook goaltender Jesse Janks, who made 21 saves Sunday, for his first career shorthanded goal.
Twenty six seconds later Alaska responded still on the power play, tying the game at one on a goal by Zach Frye.
The teams remained tied until 6:13 into the second period when Gates, who had three goals as a freshman, broke the deadlock with his team-leading third goal of the weekend. Two minutes later freshman Rem Pitlick found Lettieri open. The senior made the most for his first goal of the season to give the Gophers a 3-1 lead.
Alaska’s Austin Vieth cut the Gopher lead to one with less than two minutes after Lettieri’s goal, but Kloos made it a 4-2 game with 1:34 remaining in the second period. Taking a stretch pass from Mike Szmatula, Kloos scored his first goal of the season and fifth career goal shorthanded. The assist was also Szmatula’s first point as a Gopher.
The Gophers spent six of the opening 9:28 of the third period killing penalties. The Nanooks tested Schierhorn during that time without a goal. That effort eventually paid off in the third period when Troy Van Tetering scored his first goal of the season with 6:46 left in regulation.
However, this time it was Minnesota who responded quickly with freshman defenseman Ryan Zuhlsdorf scoring his second collegiate goal in as many games 1:01 after Alaska made it a one goal game.
Sheehy added an empty netter with his second goal of the game.
Minnesota next hosts the United States U-18 team at Mariucci Arena in an exhibition Friday October 14. Puck drop for that game is 7:00 p.m. CT. The Gophers are off for college games until playing St. Cloud State in a home-and-home series October 21-22.
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