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Gophers Hockey: Minnesota Duluth continues road mastery at Mariucci Arena

The Bulldogs scored 2 second period power play goals and defeated Minnesota 3-1 for the team's fifth consecutive win over the Gophers.

Austin Farley (11) scored his first goal of the season Friday.
Austin Farley (11) scored his first goal of the season Friday.
Matt Christians/SBN College Hockey

MINNEAPOLIS- Mariucci Arena has been a tough building for Minnesota's opponents. Wins are hard to find for anyone not wearing maroon and gold. Going back to the 2013-14 season, Minnesota has only lost a total of six games at home.

Three of those have been to in-state foe Minnesota Duluth.

The Bulldogs continue to feel comfortable in Dinkytown on the Olympic-sized ice. UMD once again won a road game in Dinkytown by defeating a Minnesota team featuring six freshmen in the lineup 3-1 Friday, extending its win streak against the Gophers to five straight games.

Jared Thomas and Austin Farley scored power play goals for Minnesota Duluth (1-1-0, 0-0-0-0 NCHC). Dominic Toninato quieted the Mariucci faithful once again by restoring a two goal lead 32 seconds after Gopher freshman Brent Gates Jr. got the home team on the scoreboard for the first time this season.

"We have to continue to work to manage the puck a little better," said Gopher head coach Don Lucia, whose team gave up five power play opportunities. "Some guys had fumble-it is at times with it. To get us going in transition, our passes weren't on.

"I think we have some guys that are fighting it a little bit right now and are capable of playing better."

Even when Minnesota (0-2-0, 0-0-0-0 Big Ten) was able to slowly get some hard-fought momentum, the floodgates did not heed much. Minnesota Duluth goaltender Kasimir Kaskisuo was able to keep the Gophers out of the net. The sophomore made 23 saves Friday for his third consecutive game against Minnesota only allowing one goal.

"(Duluth is) one of the teams that can really skate with us," Hudson Fasching said. "Our skating is typically one of our strengths and I think they are one of the teams that can go toe-to-toe with us on the big ice with their skating."

Both teams began the game slow and finding their legs. Physical play ruled a scoreless first period before Minnesota Duluth took advantage.

Special teams were the Bulldogs' course of action. UMD had three power plays in the second period, scoring twice with the man advantage 2:01 apart and out-shooting Minnesota 10-4. Gopher goaltender Eric Schierhorn was tested throughout the night, keeping his team in the game during the middle period.

Two posts were his friends while another pair led to an enemy's goal.

Minnesota Duluth freshman defenseman Neal Pionk's shot went off both posts and right to Farley, who buried the puck and celebrated his 32nd career goal.

"I thought we did some good things. I thought we had some other opportunities to score. We'll take the two - you're never going to argue about that - it was a little better," said Bulldogs head coach Scott Sandelin about his team's power play.

Gates gave the crowd and family something to cheer about on the same weekend his father (former Gopher baseball star Brent Gates Sr.) was elected into the University of Minnesota Hall of Fame. Switching lines in the third period, the Grand Rapids, MI native got his first career goal with 13:48 remaining before Toninato scored on his third effort the very next shift.

"It was nice for Junior to get his first goal, especially with his dad here," Lucia said. "Now we need the guys that need to score for us have to start scoring at some point."

Despite Schierhorn making (an admittedly short) career-high 32 saves, Minnesota has now lost back-to-back home games to open the season.

"He helped us all the way through the end. There's nothing wrong with that. We just have to play in front of him now," junior defenseman Michael Brodzinski said.

A road trip looms. With home not being a safe space the Gophers can build, Minnesota heads north as a team knowing it needs to finds itself a little more.

Minnesota and Minnesota Duluth complete their home-and-home series tomorrow night in Duluth. Puck drop is at 7:00 p.m. CT. The game airs on Fox Sports North and can be heard on 1500 ESPN (Twin Cities) and 92.1 The Fan (Duluth).


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 --