Minneapolis, MN – Throughout the season, the Gopher hockey team has leaned heavily on goaltender Mat Robson to keep them in the game long enough to have a chance.
Unfortunately, Robson can’t score goals as well.
Minnesota again looked competent on the powerplay, but the lack of five-on-five scoring came back to haunt the team Friday night. In the end, the Golden Gophers (10-12-4 Overall, 7-7-3 B1G) fell 4-2 to the Michigan Wolverines (10-10-6, 6-6-4), who outworked and frankly outclassed the home-team.
The Gophers took an early lead in the game when Rem Pitlick scored his 16th goal of the season at 4:35 of the first on the power play. The usual suspects Tommy Novak and Tyler Sheehy picked up assists on the goal.
Michigan answered right back, with Will Lockwood cleaning up a loose puck in front of Robson’s crease to tie the game at 7:14 of the first.
Michigan absolutely dominated the second period, and it was probably lucky that Minnesota only lost the middle frame 2-0. The Wolverines outshot the Gophers 22-5 in the second, and the Gophers only had their first shot with about four minutes left in the period. Even without their best forward Josh Norris (lost to injury at the World Juniors), Michigan had plenty of firepower to capitalize on copious Gopher mistakes and generally hold the puck the entire 20 minutes. Garrett Van Wyhe scored on a bad defensive play by Minnesota at 8:02, and Michael Pastujov scored on a wrister at 14:34. Minnesota killed off 1:24 of five-on-three in the period as well, so it could have been much worse.
The Gophers played a better period in the third, but lack of even-strength scoring and costly mistakes again proved fatal. Brannon McManus scored his 11th goal of the season on the powerplay at 12:34 to draw within one, but Michigan again answered quickly with Nicholas Boka scoring shorthanded at 16:36 to seal the game at 4-2.
The Gophers hope to bounce back from the embarrassing effort Saturday evening against these same Wolverines. The game starts at 7PM and can be seen on Fox Sports North Plus, streamed on Big Ten Network, and heard on AM1130 in the Twin Cities.