After suffering their first loss of the season Sunday, Minnesota (6-1-0, 3-0-0 WCHA) rebounded by beating the Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves (3-3-1, 0-3-0 WCHA ) 5-0 Friday night. Kent Patterson earned his fourth shutout of the season (and it’s still October) for the Golden Gophers while Erik Haula led the way with two goals.
Minnesota looked like they learned from losing to Vermont as the Gophers dominated play in the first period and had no issues moving the puck. However they were not able to get past Seawolves goalie Chris Kamal until sophomore Zach Budish set up Haula’s sixth goal of the season with 1:59 left in the period.
Kyle Rau made it 2-0 8:14 into the second period as the freshman buried a Nick Bjugstad rebound. Rau now has five goals (out of seven) on the power play and Alaska-Anchorage, who came into the game having killed 13 of their last 14 penalties, only went 1-3 Friday.
Defensemen continued to get into the goal scoring after spending most of the first three weekends shut out with Mark Alt and Justin Holl each getting their name on the score sheet. Alt scored his first goal of the season off of a howitzer from freshman Travis Boyd while Holl put the dagger into Alaska-Anchorage thirty seconds into the third period to make it 4-0 Gophers.
Haula finished the scoring by putting Minnesota ahead 5-0 with a laser from the right circle on the power play.
The Gophers were clearly the much better team Friday night and Alaska struggled to contain their offense. However, the Seawolves were able to create opportunities in the final two periods (and actually out-shot Minnesota 22-21) but Patterson and the Gophers defense stood tall. The blue line was especially great as they blocked multiple Anchorage shots and had no problems with gap control.
With a 5-0 win it’s hard to find negatives but Minnesota ended the game on a negative note. The Gophers looked to be playing disciplined hockey – which was needed after taking some questionable penalties in Sunday’s loss – but Minnesota gave the Seawolves three power plays in the final twelve minutes. Patterson stood tall but the stretches of undisciplined play need to be cut back.
It seems like every game features a ten minute stretch with three Minnesota penalties and while I don’t want to see the Gophers lose aggression, there’s no excuse for losing focus after leading 5-0.
That’s one of the only things holding back Minnesota but in the end, the maroon and gold improved tonight to 3-0 in the WCHA with three road victories after tonight’s 5-0 win. The Gophers have a chance to sweep Alaska-Anchorage – something which no one did last season – tomorrow night at 10 PM Central.
The game will be broadcast on ESPN 1500 and streamed here.