By Paul Cicmil
October 14, 2012
Minneapolis – Minnesota started fast and scored three first period goals en route to a 5-1 victory over future Big 10 Conference opponent Michigan State in men’s college hockey.
In Friday night’s regular season kick-off at Mariucci Arena, the Golden Gophers offensive attack was paced by two point nights from junior forwards Nick Bjugstad (1G, 1A) and Zach Budish (2A) and freshman defenseman Mike Reilly (2A). Pitching in with one goal apiece were defenseman Ben Marshall and forwards Erik Haula, Travis Boyd — on a third period power play — and Christian Isackson.
Michigan State’s lone goal scorer was sophomore wing Tanner Sorenson, whose even-strength tally at 15:59 of the third period averted the shutout.
Junior goaltender Mike Shibrowski played well in his first career regular season start for the host Gophers, giving up only the late third period goal and making 25 saves to get the win. In a losing cause, Spartans’ goalie Will Yanakeff finished with 37 saves.
Marshall opened the scoring for Minnesota, at 4:27 of period one, on a slapshot from just inside the far blueline, off a rink wide pass from Budish. Then a little over 2 minutes later, at 6:40, Florida Panthers’ draftee Bjugstad scored his first of the season, on a low wrist shot from the bottom of the left circle, care of freshman defenseman Reilly’s first career assist.
The play initiated in the neutral zone, with Reilly exiting the penalty box after serving 2 minutes for Interference, and resulted in a 2-on-1 break, which Bjugstad converted. In Bjugstad’s words, “…it was a good pass by him, and I just kinda put it on net. I didn’t have much time. That guy was on me. Luckily, he (Reilly) was coming out of the box, and it was a good little break for all of us.”
Isackson capped the initial stanza with his first career goal at 13:38. The Gophers entered the Spartans’ zone with numbers, and Bjugstad, cruising down the right side, found his sophomore linemate trailing the play in the high slot. Isackson beat netminder Yanakeff with a wrister from 15 feet, and it was 3-0 in favor of the hosts.
In his post-game comments, Minnesota Head Coach Don Lucia said Isackson “…shows that he belongs, to play with that group, which gives us some more balance throughout our lineup.”
Late in the second period, junior center and 2011-12 points leader Erik Haula upped Minnesota’s lead to 4-0 with a workmanlike effort at the 17:46 mark. Haula freed the puck off the end boards in traffic and then drove to the front of the net. Yanakeff stopped Haula’s first forehand attempt, but not the second, from the top of the goal crease, 5 feet out. Right winger/team captain Budish and defenseman Reilly earned assists on the play, completing their respective multiple point contributions on this evening.
Rounding out the scoring for the Gophers was Boyd’s man advantage goal, off a scramble in front of Yanakeff, at 11:30 of the final period. Both of the sophomore center’s linemates — Seth Ambroz and Nate Condon — picked up assists, meaning that each player on Minnesota’s top three lines contributed at least one point in Friday’s home opener.
— On Friday night, Minnesota outshot Michigan State to the tune of 42-26
— Face-off wins were 32-30 in favor of Michigan State
— Minnesota was 1-2 on the power play; MSU was 0-3
— Per MN Head Coach Don Lucia, freshman Adam Wilcox (#32) will start in goal on
Saturday night for the Gophers.
— Start time for Saturday night’s game is 8 p.m. (Central).