Gophers Win Home Opener 5-2 over Beavers
Three 2nd Period Goals Seal Victory for Minnesota
Photo by: Craig Cotner Boyd with a shorty Welcome home, Gopher Hockey!
After a long offseason and an Icebreaker tournament victory, the Gophers were finally back in action on home ice tonight against the Bemidji State Beavers.
It's been two long weeks since the Gophers won their opening two games in the season-opening Icebreaker tournament. After the bye week last weekend, the Gophers looked to start the meat of their season off right against a Bemidji team that split with #2 North Dakota last weekend. The Gophers looked great for a period and a half, and good enough for the rest, notching four goals by the 8:38 mark of the 2nd period and another in the third to put the last nail in the Beaver coffin.
Minnesota got an early powerplay when BSU's Mitch Cain went off for interference, and although Kyle Rau and Hudson Fasching connected for a couple quality chances, Bemidji's Michael Bitzer made big saves early to keep the Beavers in the game.
However, the Gophers' Taylor Cammarata would break through on a beautiful tic-tac-toe passing play at 8:41 of the period. Justin Kloos fed Sam Warning from the half-wall, who fired a one touch pass from the blue line to Cammarata at the goal mouth. The goal was Cammarata's first of the year.
No more goals were scored in the first period, but Kyle Rau lit the lamp at just 0:35 of the second period to give the Gophers a 2-0 lead. Rau took a Leon Bristedt pass and danced through the BSU defense before deking Bitzer and scoring.
Bemidji would answer right back, though, as Cain took a bad Travis Boyd clearing attempt and walked in all alone on Adam Wilcox.
Mike Reilly took a tripping penalty just minutes later and it looked like Bemidji had a chance to get back into the game, but Travis Boyd scord a shorthanded goal off of a Brady Skjei rebound to give the Gophers another two-goal lead.
The Gophers took a bench minor for too-many men at 5:25 of the period to give BSU a full minute of 5-on-3, but Minnesota's penalty killers were able to kill off both penalties and swing the momentum back the Gophers' way.
Boyd scored his second goal of the season and second of the game less than a minute after the penalty kill, taking Kyle Rau's backhand, no-look pass and firing the puck past Bitzer on the powerplay.
Minnesota seemed happy with their 4-1 lead at this point, and didn't play with a whole lot of urgency the rest of the way. Bemidji started winning puck battles and getting good chances on Adam Wilcox, but the Gopher netminder was up to the task, ultimately stopping 29 of BSU's 31 shots.
Both teams would add powerplay goals in the third period, with Hudson Fasching notching his third goal of the season on a tipped Mike Reilly shot from the point.
The 5-2 final was the Gophers third win of the season. Shots were 32-31 in favor of Minnesota. Minnesota ended 2-6 on the powerplay with 11 PP shots, while Bemidji was 1-6 with just six shots registered on their man advantage opportunities.
The Gophers (3-0-0 Overall) face Bemidji State (1-2-0) again tomorrow night. The puck drops at 7:00PM and is available on Fox Sports North Plus, BTN2Go online, and AM1500 radio.
Notes & Quotes:
3 Stars: 3) Taylor Cammarata, 2) Kyle Rau, 1) Travis Boyd
Gopher Multiple-Point Scorers: Taylor Cammarata: 1G-2A-3P, Travis Boyd: 2G-0A-2P, Kyle Rau: 1G-1A-2P
BSU coach Tom Serratore, on the Gophers' passing: "They move the puck around well, and really know how to spread it out on this big ice."
Gopher coach Don Lucia, on having so many returning players: "They made some nice plays out there, the familiarity helps."
Lucia, on Saturday's game: "We have some mistakes to clean up. We played for 9 minutes short, that's not what you want."
Taylor Cammarata, on the schedule: "I wasn't crazy about the week off this early. We did a lot of practice and got some things set for today."