Minneapolis, MN – It’s funny how things go. On Saturday, the Huskies torched college hockey’s top defense and top-rated goaltender in a 7-2 win. On Sunday, in the championship game of the Mariucci Classic, the Huskies struggled to score against the 50th ranked defense and 43rd ranked goaltender. It was almost as if the uniforms of the Mavericks and Gophers were switched for the weekend. The Gophers exploded for three second period goals and the Huskies offense went dormant as the host Gophers captured the championship game of the Mariucci Classic by a 4-1 (EN) score.
The game actually started out well for the Huskies who garnered the first four shots on goal including a point-blank shot off a two on one by Jake Wahlin three minutes in and another blazing wrister by Easton Brodzinski that went off LaFontaine’s helmet about seven minutes in. Meanwhile, the Huskies protected starter Jaxon Castor containing the Gophers without a shot on goal for the first eleven minutes of the period. But, unlike the Mavericks on Friday, the Gophers game plan was obviously to leave as little room as possible for the Huskies to free-wheel and to stack the blue line to hinder entry. After getting the first shot on goal nine minutes in the Gophers began to take control of the period outshooting the Huskies 5-1 the rest of period one.
The game was ultimately decided in period two with the Gophers exploding for three goals and outshooting the Huskies 14-10. The game turned for the worst for the Huskies after a penalty to Luke Jaycox for playing with a broken stick at 3:18. The Gophers immediately took advantage with a goal by Sammy Walker, his seventh of the season just 28 seconds later. A shot from the left circle was deflected through traffic and the Gophers led 1-0. Outshooting the Huskies 6-1, they struck again just 44 seconds later with Tyler Nanne’s (GWG) third goal of the season. The Gophers won the draw and Nanne pitched the puck through traffic past Castor for a 2-0 advantage. Surprisingly, Castor was pulled at that point in favor of David Hrenak despite little the starter could do on either goal. Perhaps it was a coaching manuever to try to jump-start the Huskies who seemed to have lost control of the game. The move was to no avail as Hrenak was beat on the very next shot by Bryce Brodzinski who took advantage of a defensive breakdown and charged into the zone one on one on Hrenak and snapped a shot past him. The deciding point of the game followed as the Gophers took three consecutive penalties but the Huskies were unable to convert. The Gophers defended a penalty to Sammy Walker at 8:51 and then were down two men with consecutive penalties to Jonny Sorenson at 15:40 and Matt Staudacher at 16:32, both for hooking. The Huskies took a time out to regroup but then were only able to generate three shots on goal losing a golden opportunity to get back in the game. The final indication that things were not in the cards for SCSU was a shot that rang off the post by Nick Perbix with four seconds remaining in the period.
Period three had Minnesota outshooting the Huskies 12 to 9 with the Huskies trying to mount some offense. Discipline became an issue with three penalties to the Huskies – two to Nick Poehling and the other to brother Jack. The Gophers ultimately added an empty net goal at 17:41 by Scott Reedy for a 4-0 lead. The Huskies broke LaFontaine’s shutout at 18:22 as Micah Miller tipped a shot by Wahlin past the Gopher goaltender for a 4-1 final.
For the game, the Gophers outshot SCSU 33-25 and in a solid outing, LaFontaine stopped 24 of 25 shots to earn his 4th win of the season. The shared duties by the Huskies had Jaxon Castor stopping 11 of 13 shots while Hrenak turned aside 18 of 19. For the game, the Huskies blocked 21 shots on goal while the Gophers blocked 18. SCSU was shutout on the power play going 0 for 4 while Minnesota was 1 for 3. Minnesota won 32 of 56 faceoffs.
Stars of the Game: #1 LaFontaine (UMN) #2 Walker (UMN) #3 Nanne (UMN)
All Tournament Team:
Okabe (SCSU), Walker (UMN), Krannila (SCSU), Nanne (UMN), Perbix (SCSU). LaFontaine (UMN)
MVP: Lafontaine (UMN)