MINNEAPOLIS – New Golden Gophers head coach Bob Motzko likes what he saw overall in his first weekend in charge.
Ending a lengthy losing streak against an archrival is nice, but he sees plenty of improvements to be made in the next couple weeks.
Six different Gophers had goals, and Mat Robson had another fantastic night in net with 42 saves as Minnesota used a three-goal first period to upend Minnesota-Duluth 7-4 on Sunday night at 3M Arena at Mariucci to end their nine-game winless streak in the series.
“Great enthusiasm to start the game,” Motzko said. “The crowd – they were into it. I think our team fed off of that and our skill guys made some great plays tonight.”
The Gophers had 11 different players get on the scoresheet to chase starting goaltender Hunter Shepard (11 saves), but they were also called for nine penalties to help the Bulldogs hang around. Motzko stated that discipline would be one of the things they would work on in the next couple weeks.
“We have to have discipline. College hockey – every weekend is a playoff series,” Motzko said. “You cannot take penalties like that.
“We were killing penalties the whole night. That will be a point of emphasis [moving forward.] We’re a team that needs practice.”
Nick Deery came on in relief of Shepard and made four saves on five shots for the Bulldogs, who were beaten by the Gophers for the first time since October 10, 2014 in the Ice Breaker Tournament. It was also UMD’s first loss at Mariucci Arena since November 23, 2013; they had won in all three of their visits since then.
Despite the loss, Bulldogs head coach Scott Sandelin isn’t complaining too much.
“That first period was weird, because I thought we had a good start to the game,” Sandelin said. “Even being down 3-0, I thought we had a pretty good period. I actually thought we had a better game tonight.”
Sandelin thought the key difference in the game was taking advantage of opportunities.
“Unfortunately they capitalized on more of their chances than we did,” he said.
Motzko preached surviving a tough UMD team for a second night in a row after Saturday’s game, and that was certainly made easier after Minnesota established a very good forecheck early and scored three times in the opening 20 minutes on a pair of goals by Brannon McManus and one by Tyler Sheehy.
But the defending champion Bulldogs weren’t going down that easy. Shots on goal heavily favored UMD throughout the game, and they poured 19 on Robson in the second period alone, getting goals from Noah Cates and Mikey Anderson to cut the deficit to one.
Just when momentum seemed to be in Duluth’s favor, a quick answer from Minnesota was needed, and they got just that on Sammy Walker’s first collegiate goal. Rem Pitlick followed that up later with a shorthanded goal, pushing the lead back to three and making it easier to maintain their cushion following a game misconduct on Sam Rossini shortly before the goal.
The teams traded two goals apiece in the third period. Duluth had 33 shots over the final 40 minutes, and Motzko credits Robson for an outstanding performance to keep Minnesota ahead after all the time spent in front of him killing penalties.
“If this is a snapshot, we’re solid in goal,” he said.
Minnesota-Duluth (0-1-1) heads out to Houghton next weekend to take on former WCHA rival Michigan Tech. Minnesota (1-0-1) plays a pair of exhibition games in the next two weeks before they head to Las Vegas to take on North Dakota on October 27.
MINN goal at 7:17: Brannon McManus (1). Assisted by Scott Reedy (1) and Garrett Wait (1).
MINN goal at 10:45: McManus (2). Assisted by Clayton Phillips (2) and Ryan Zuhlsdorf (2).
MINN power-play goal at 16:34: Tyler Sheehy (1). Assisted by Phillips (3) and Rem Pitlick (1).
UMD PP goal at 9:46: Noah Cates (1). Assisted by Scott Perunovich (1) and Parker Mackay (1).
UMD goal at 14:41: Mikey Anderson (1). Assisted by Louie Roehl (1) and Nick Swaney (1).
MINN goal at 15:26: Sammy Walker (1). Assisted by Phillips (4) and Jack Sadek (1).
MINN shorthanded goal at 16:31: Rem Pitlick (1). Unassisted.
MINN goal at 3:08: Garrett Wait (1). Assisted by Darian Romanko (1) and McManus (1).
UMD goal at 4:57: Jackson Cates (1). Assisted by Cole Koepke (1) and Scott Perunovich (2).
MINN goal at 11:45: Sampo Ranta (2). Assisted by Reedy (2).
UMD power-play goal at 14:06: Jackson Cates (2). Assisted by Anderson (1) and Justin Richards (1).
Power plays: UMD 2-5, MINN 1-3.
Shots on goal: UMD 46, MINN 22.