‘U’ Downs Sun Devils 5-1 in Opener
MINNEAPOLIS – Six Minnesota skaters recorded multi-point games as Gopher Hockey picked up a 5-1 victory over No. 12/11 Arizona State in the first-ever meeting between the two programs on Friday night at 3M Arena at Mariucci.
The Gophers (15-15-4 overall, 11-10-3-0 Big Ten) gave up the opening goal to the Sun Devils before proceeding to rattle off five-unanswered tallies to open the final weekend of the regular season. Sammy Walker, Brent Gates Jr., Rem Pitlick, Tyler Sheehy, Blake McLaughlin and Tyler Nanne all recorded two-point performances for the Maroon & Gold.
The Maroon & Gold have now won four of the last five contests while Mat Robson has allowed just one goal in each of the last two games.
Arizona State (21-11-1) jumped out to an early lead when Jake Gifford found the net at 3:53 of the first period on the Sun Devils’ first shot on goal of the game. It was the only blemish on Robson’s night as the junior goaltender made 14 saves to pick up the win, improving to 12-11-4 on the year.
From there, it was all Gophers. McLaughlin and Sam Rossini set up Walker with the equalizer for his 10th goal of the year at 15:47 of the first period before Nanne and Walker fed McLaughlin for the eventual game winner at 14:04 of the second stanza. McLaughlin now has four goals on the year.
Minnesota added three more in a penalty-filled third period. Nanne scored his fifth goal of the season just 40 seconds into the final period off assists from Gates and Ryan Zuhlsdorf followed by power-play goals from Pitlick and Gates. Pitlick picked up his team-leading 18th goal of the year at 9:42 off an assist from Sheehy while the pair then turned around to set up Gates at 16:06. Pitlick leads Minnesota and ranks tied for fourth in the nation with a career-high 40 points this season while Sheehy’s 38 points moved his career total to 146 (tied with Trent Klatt for 32nd in program history).
The Gophers finished the night 2-for-10 on the power play and 4-for-4 on the penalty kill while outshooting Arizona State 42-15 in the victory.
Minnesota closes out the regular season on Saturday night with a 7:00 p.m. CT nonconference battle against Arizona State on FOX Sports North PLUS. Ticket information is available at GopherSports.com and 1-800-U-GOPHER.
Notes: Minnesota will honor its nine-member senior class prior to Saturday’s game against the Sun Devils – the Gophers are 8-0-2 over the last 10 years in the regular season home finale, typically celebrated as “Senior Night”…Minnesota is 5-0-0 when McLaughlin records a multi-point performance and 4-0-0 when Walker does so…Minnesota has now won its last five “first-ever” games with an opponent and has now played 58 of 60 active NCAA teams (Bentley and American International are the exceptions)…Ryan Norman became the 10th active Gopher to play in 100 career games on Friday…Gates (28 points) and Nanne (12 points) both reached new single-season career highs for points.