Minneapolis, MN – For the first time this season, Minnesota came back to win a game in which they trailed. Redshirt junior captain Zach Budish scored the game winner with 14:20 left in regulation as the Gophers defeated in-state rival Minnesota State 3-2 Friday night in the first game of a home-and-home series.
The Mavericks took an early 1-0 lead when sophomore defenseman Zach Palmquist tapped home a pass from JP Lafontaine past Minnesota goalie Adam Wilcox 4:50 into the game. However, Gopher sophomore Travis Boyd tied the game six minutes later on the power play when his shot found a way past screened Minnesota State goalie Phil Cook.
Cook, who made 29 saves, shrugged off the goal and spent the next shutting down an offense that spent entire shifts in the Mavericks zone. Minnesota had chances to take a lead throughout the second period but it was Minnesota State freshman Teddy Blueger who came through for his team on a third effort midway through the second period. It proved to be the Mavericks’ high point, unfortunately, as goals by Minnesota sophomore defenseman Nate Schmidt and Budish gave the Gophers the lead for the good.
With the win, Minnesota improves to 5-1-0 (3-1-0 WCHA) while Minnesota State drops to 2-3-2 (0-3-0 WCHA).
What I Saw
-Minnesota State came out strong in the first period and tested the Gopher defense. They had multiple chances to make it 2-0 and it looked like the forwards were making a conscious effort to shoot high on Adam Wilcox. That tenacity, however, faded as the game went on. While penalties took their toll on the Mavericks, their forwards weren’t able to create much offense and test Wilcox outside of the final minute.
-Minnesota’s power play picked up some power. The Gophers entered Friday’s game 3 for 20 on the power play and matched that total in six opportunities against the Mavericks by scoring all three goals with the man advantage.
What I Thought
-Budish was reunited this week with his linemates from last season, Kyle Rau and Nick Bjugstad, in an attempt to kickstart his offense. The move worked out for the Gophers. Zach scored his first goal of the season (he also came close to tipping in a second goal that hit the crossbar) and the top line was Minnesota’s best Friday.
-Teddy Blueger was Minnesota State’s best forward. Besides scoring a goal, the Pittsburgh Penguins draft pick made his presence known on both ends of the ice, backchecked hard and seemed to be just as happy making a defensive play than he was scoring. Mavericks head coach Mike Hastings also seemed to be impressed and said after the game that they were going to try to find a way to get him to play more.
What They Said
-Mike Hastings on Minnesota State’s play: “I thought the compete was better. We played well in the first period. That’s a step. We need to continue to take steps.
-Zach Budish: “I don’t think it’s been a secret I haven’t played my best the first six games or whatever.”
-Minnesota defenseman Nate Schmidt on his goal: “I had no idea until (Zach Budish) celebrated it. It’s hard to see around him.”
What They Didn’t Say
Minnesota head coach Don Lucia wouldn’t commit on who he planned to start in goal Saturday but was happy with how his team played. That seems to point towards Adam Wilcox, who made 23 saves Friday, getting his first back-to-back starts as he continues to shine in net. The freshman had split the first three weekends with junior Michael Shibrowski.
What Else You Should Know
-Two of Minnesota’s three goals were the results of screens while the third occurred on a rebound.
-Minnesota State went 1 for 3 on the power play and also matched their season total. The Mavericks entered Friday’s game 1 for 12 with the man advantage.
-With Sam Warning out with an unspecified injury, all 8 of Minnesota’s defensemen played Friday. Sophomore Ben Marshall and senior Justin Holl both played as forwards
-Paid attendance was announced as 9,989.