By Paul Cicmil
October 13, 2012
Minneapolis – On Saturday night at Mariucci Arena, the Minnesota Golden Gopher men’s hockey team completed the weekend sweep of the Michigan State Spartans with a convincing 7-1 victory.
Unlike Friday night, Michigan State had an encouraging start, forcing a turnover by Minnesota wing Christian Isackson near his own blueline, 55 seconds in, and getting a Grade A scoring chance by Matt Berry off the resulting odd-man rush. Unfortunately for the Spartans, Gopher freshman goaltender Adam Wilcox, in his first career start, neatly flashed his glove and snared Berry’s wrist shot from the top of the right circle.
From there, it was all downhill for the Spartans, as the host Gophers potted four first period goals and didn’t take their foot off the gas until they had scored a touchdown’s worth of goals by the end of 60 minutes.
Pacing the Gopher’s offensive onslaught were Erik Haula (G,A), Kyle Rau (G,A), Brady Skjei (G,A), Zach Budish (2A), Christian Isackson (2A) and Justin Holl (2A), each with two points.
The evening scoring highlights were Nick Bjugstad’s second goal of the season, just over five minutes into the game, off a beautiful play by sophomore left-winger Rau, that staked the Gophers to a 2-0 lead, and junior winger Tom Serratore’s first of the campaign, which resulted from the hard work of defenseman-elevated-to-wing Holl and freshman center Ryan Reilly and upped the Gopher first period lead to 3-0. Skjei’s power-play goal, on a slapshot from the right point at 15:42 of the third period, was the freshman defenseman’s first of the season and closed out the scoring parade for the Maroon and Gold.
On Bjugstad’s goal, Rau skated high in the offensive zone and had an open lane to the net, but he unselfishly passed up a scoring chance and fed his All-American linemate for an easy tap-in down low, past the helpless Spartan netminder Will Yanakeff. Serratore’s marker, at 7:19, exactly two minutes after Bjugstad’s, was a collective effort of the fourth line. Reilly drove down the right wing into the offensive zone, threw a centering pass to Holl in front of the net, and Serratore cashed in Holl’s rebound from the top of the crease.
Like his teammate Mike Shibrowski did on Friday night, Minnesota goaltender Adam Wilcox allowed Michigan State to score only once — Brent Darnell at 2:05 of the third period—and made 10 saves to get his first win in a Golden Gopher uniform. State’s Yanakeff gave up the first six Minnesota goals before being replaced by freshman Jake Hildebrand at the start of the third period. Yanakeff made 18 saves and took the loss to go 0-2. Hildebrand stopped 9 shots and gave up one goal in twenty minutes of action.
With consecutive wins over the Spartans, the Golden Gophers claimed the Mariucci-Bessone trophy, named for respective Minnesota and Michigan State coaching legends John Mariucci and Amo Bessone, and presented to the victor of the yearly MN/MSU series.