Gophers Win Mariucci Classic Opener 3-2 Over UConn

Fasching’s 3rd Period Game-Winner Gets Gophers to .500

Minneapolis, MN – Gopher Head Coach Don Lucia has maintained all season long that his leaders will have to step up for Minnesota to have success this year. One game into the new year, Hudson Fasching took that message to heart.

The junior forward scored his team-leading ninth goal of the season at 5:22 of the third period to put the Minnesota Gophers (8-8-0 Overall, 3-1-0 B1G) ahead for good against the UConn Huskies (5-11-1).

The Gophers started out sluggish, and despite an early power play and a decent volume of shots did not put much pressure on the Huskies or control the puck for any significant stretches of time. The good news, though, was that they didn’t give up many chances either. Though there were 15 total shots on goal in the period (8-7 in favor of MN), the two teams were tied 0-0 after one period.

The scoring picked up in the second, and UConn lit the lamp first. Evan Richardson scored his third goal of the year on a great pass from teammate Patrick Kirtland at 10:55. Kirtland drew the Gopher defenders towards him on a rush into the Gopher zone before threading a pass through to Richardson, who one-timed the puck past Minnesota goalie Eric Schierhorn and into the back of the net.

The Huskies’ lead would not last long, however, as the Gophers would respond on the powerplay less than six minutes later. Michael Brodzinski laced a wrister from the top of the slot that picked the corner of the net, tying the game at 1-1. On the very next shift, Vinni Lettieri slapped a bouncing puck towards the net, which deflected off of Taylor Cammarata’s facemask and over the goal line to give the Gophers their first lead of the game. Despite a frenzied Gopher finish to the second period, they could not pop any more goals past UConn’s stellar goaltender Rob Nichols, and the second period closed with a 2-1 lead for Minnesota.

UConn got right back into the game early in the third, when Max Letunov found the puck in the low slot and rifled it past Schierhorn to tie the game at two. 31 seconds later at 5:22, Tommy Novak streaked up the left wing and curled along the end boards before centering the puck into the slot for Hudson Fasching. Fasching settled it down quickly, and then wristed it past Nichols into the net to give the Gophers a 3-2 lead. The goal was a momentum-killer for the Huskies, and seemed to buoy Minnesota.

The Gophers salted the rest of the game away, playing sound hockey and chipping the puck in when they had a chance. Despite the close score, the Gophers finished the game with a massive 38-17 shot advantage, and had an similarly large lead in high-percentage chances.

With the win, Minnesota moves on to face #7 ranked Harvard (7-1-3) in Saturday’s Mariucci Classic final. UConn will play Ferris State, who lost 7-3 to Harvard, in the third place game. The last time the Gophers won the Mariucci Classic was in 2012-2013, when they defeated a good Boston College team 8-1 in the final.

The Gophers play at 7PM Saturday. The TV schedule for tomorrow is still TBD, but the game can be heard on AM1500 on the radio.