Gophers Win Mariucci Classic with 4-1 Victory over UMass

Schierhorn Named Tournament MVP

Gophers Win First Mariucci Classic Title Since 2012

Minneapolis, MN – This senior class has won a lot of big games in their four-year careers: National Semifinals, Conference Titles, big rivalry games.

One thing they hadn’t accomplished was a Mariucci Classic title.

The annual post-holiday tournament was something of a cakewalk for Minnesota in the past, but first-round losses to Colgate (2013) and Merrimack (2014), along with an OT loss in the championship against Harvard in 2015 conspired to keep the Gophers out of the winner’s circle for four straight years.

Minnesota (11-5-2 Overall, 3-1-0 B1G) seemed to avenge some of those past losses Saturday, taking control of the game early and never relinquishing their command en route to a 4-1 win over the UMass Minutemen (5-13-2 Overall).

Just like Friday night’s game, the Gophers benefitted from an early power play opportunity, and capitalized to take the first lead of the game.  Tyler Sheehy scored his team-leading 12th goal of the year at just 1:44 of the first period, with assists to Justin Kloos and Mike Szmatula.

Kloos would open the second period with a goal of his own, this one on a shorthanded breakaway.  The unassisted goal at 5:02 of the middle frame put Minnesota in the driver’s seat.  UMass clawed to within one goal when Johnny Lazarus scored for the Minutemen at 12:54 of the second, but Mike Szmatula scored on the power play just 75 seconds later at 14:09 to give the Gophers their two-goal cushion back.

The third period was a penalty-ridden affair, with the Gophers taking 21 minutes of penalties – including a Ryan Zuhlsdorf checking from behind 5-and-gamer at 13:44 of the third.  The Minnesota penalty kill, excellent all game, stood up to the task – the killers held UMass to 0-6 for the game, with tournament-MVP Schierhorn coming up big in several key moments.

Vinni Lettieri potted an empty net goal with just 36 seconds left on the clock to seal the game for Minnesota.

The Gophers enter 2017 with a solid 11-5-2 record, good for 11th in the polls and 10th in both the RPI and the (admittedly early) PWR rankings.

The new year starts off with an off-week for Minnesota, before they jump back into league play by hosting Michigan January 13th and 14th.

Happy New Year, and Go Gophers!

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About Chris Eckes 94 Articles
Gopher Hockey fan since birth. Avid golfer. Fantasy Sports enthusiast.

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