Gophers Rally from Early Deficit to Win
Tyler Sheehy’s 2G-1A Lead Team
Minneapolis, MN – If the Gophers were rusty following their off-week, they sure did not show it Friday night.
With a dominant offensive performance, the Minnesota Gophers (12-5-2 Overall, 4-1-0 B1G) blew out Michigan (8-10-1, 1-4-0) 5-2 on Friday. Minnesota thoroughly dominated the possession battle and won the final shots by a count of 45-24.
Although Minnesota started hot, it was Michigan that would take the first lead of the game on a Max Shuart even-strength goal at 8:57 of the first period. Shuart slithered into the mid-slot and one-timed a pass from behind the Gopher net into the back of the goal to give Michigan their first (and only) lead of the game at 1-0.
The Gophers, who were garnering chances and firing tons of shots early on in the opening frame, kept at it and were rewarded in the final few minutes of the first. Rem Pitlick broke the ice for Minnesota and knotted the game at 1-1 with an absolute snipe as he rushed down the left wing . Pitlick’s shot beat Wolverine goalie Zach Nagelvoort high on the short side, with Tyler Sheehy picking up his 14th assist on the 14:19 goal.
Minnesota struck twice more as the period expired, both on similar plays. Leon Bristedt was at his stickhandling-best Friday night, routinely stopping on a dime and curling away from defending Wolverine sticks. On both late-period goals, Bristedt was able to draw defenders and stickhandle away from them on the right-wing half-wall before threading a pass to Ryan Collins at the right point. Collins, who had perhaps his best game as a Gopher Friday night, got good shots through to the net on each play. The second Gopher goal, scored at 16:29, was a Tommy Novak tip-in off of that Collins shot. The third Gopher goal, scored with less than two seconds remaining in the period at 19:58, was a Mike Szmatula rebound goal off of Collins’ shot from the point. The two goals gave Minnesota a big two-goal lead at 3-1 heading into the first intermission.
Minnesota drew an early powerplay opportunity at 6:28 of the second, but Bristedt, who had been so brilliant all game, made a costly error by skating out in front of his own net on the powerplay and losing the puck to Michigan’s Brendan Warren. Warren was able to poke the puck past Gopher goalie Eric Scheirhorn to draw the Wolverines within one at 3-2 at 6:58 of the second stanza.
The Gopher’s leading scorer Tyler Sheehy scored another late goal for Minnesota to give the team their two-goal cushion back before the second intermission. Sheehy camped out on the stick-side of Nagelvoort and batted at a centering pass from Rem Pitlick. Even though there were myriad Michigan defenders standing around Nagelvoort’s crease, Sheehy was able to take enough whacks at the puck to deposit it into the net at 18:01. Justin Kloos also assisted on the goal.
Sheehy scored again on a 5-on-3 powerplay late in the third to seal the game for Minnesota. His wrister from the mid-slot (assisted by Jake Bischoff and Tommy Novak at 11:25) put the Gophers up 5-2, which is where the score-line stayed until the buzzer sounded ending the game.
All in all, the Gophers outshot the Wolverines by a final tally of 45-24. Minnesota’s powerplay was officially 1-6 on the night, scoring on the 5-on-3 but also giving up a sloppy shorthanded goal. The three stars as announced at Mariucci Arena were: 3) Ryan Collins (0G-2A), 2) Tommy Novak (1G-1A), and 1) Tyler Sheehy (2G-1A).
The Gophers will go for the sweep against these Michigan Wolverines Saturday night. The rubber match can be seen on FSN Plus, streamed on Fox Sports Go and/or BTN2Go, and heard over the air on 1500ESPN. The puck drops at 7PM Saturday.
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