Patterson Records Third-Straight Home Shutout
Senior goalie Kent Patterson pitched his third shutout in as many home games this season as the Gophers remained undefeated on the young season after trouncing Hockey East’s Vermont Catamounts by a 6-0 score on Friday night at Mariucci Arena.
Patterson, who allowed eight goals but stopped 96 shots in a pair of wins over Minnesota Duluth last weekend, was expected to be one of the Gophers’ best players this season, and he has lived up to that billing through five games. Granted the home competition (Sacred Heart for two games and then Vermont tonight) hasn’t been too high-end, but he showed against the Bulldogs why he’s one of the nation’s best.
“It’s not just me but our whole team,” said Patterson. “Our team played really well tonight. Guys were blocking shots, and the main thing was we were on offense most of the game.”
To Patterson’s point, the Gophers outshot the Catamounts by a 38 to 17 margin and controlled play for the majority of the evening. It didn’t take them long to get started, as for the fourth time in five games this season, the Gophers jumped out to an early lead. Just 44 seconds into the game, freshman Kyle Rau scored his fifth goal of the season off a great feed from senior Jake Hansen. Sophomore Eric Haula got the other assist, his fifth of the season at the time.
Just under three minutes later, another freshman forward would strike. The Catamounts would turn the puck over below the dots in their own end, and the Gophers would capitalize and double their lead in the process. The end-result was Sam Warning bagging his third goal of the season at 3:37 of the first period.
“We got off to a quick start which is always key when you’re at home,” said head coach Don Lucia. “We were able to get them on their heels a little bit and we understand this was their first game of the season.”
Vermont would actually play pretty well the remainder of the period, keeping the puck in the Minnesota end for most of the time and drawing some Gopher penalties though they were unable to take advantage of said infractions while on the power play. One bad pinch near the offensive blueline, however, cost them big-time, as sophomore Nick Bjugstad led a two-on-one rush down ice. Instead of dishing the puck to Rau, Bjugstad elected to shoot and puck just trickled through the legs of Vermont goalie Rob Madore to make it 3-0.
From midway through the first period until early in the second, the Gophers were forced to kill off four-straight penalties, but Patterson and Co. were up to the task.
“We didn’t allow them to get back into it,” Lucia said. “I thought our penalty kill was really good.”
The Gophers would keep the foot on the gas in the second period as well. Minnesota’s third line, which was instrumental in the sweep last weekend at Minnesota Duluth, would get on the board thanks to a great cross-crease feed from behind the net by Nate Condon to Taylor Matson, who tapped in his second of the season at 7:20 of the second.
For the second time in the game, Rau and Bjugstad would break into the Vermont zone on a two-on-one rush. This time, Rau was the one with the puck on his stick, and instead of shooting, he dished it over to Bjugstad to went high on the glove-side for his fifth goal of the season and second on the night to make it 5-0 Minnesota at the 9:52 mark.
The Gopher power play, which scored a whopping six times against the Bulldogs a week ago, was held in check for much of the night. However, after Vermont was unable to clear the puck thanks to a great five seconds worth of work by freshman Seth Ambroz at the top of the circle to fight off Vermont defenders and keep the puck in the zone, sophomore Zach Budish rang the puck low off the pipe and then into the net for his second goal of the season.
Minnesota outshot Vermont 12-4 during a scoreless and mostly uneventful third period, as the Catamounts never really came close to breaking Patterson’s shutout streak.
“I can’t say enough about him [Patterson],” said Bjugstad. “Last weekend he really saves us up at UMD. He’s a great goalie and a great leader on the team.”
Hansen, who is second on the team in scoring with ten points, was of course happy with the win.
“I’m very confident in our team right now,” the former White Bear Lake star said. “This is a game where we could have come out a little relaxed, but we came out hot right away and scored two goals on our first two shifts and that’s something that our coaches tell us every day … the first ten minutes of each period is huge, and so far this year it’s worked out pretty good for us.”
The Gophers will look to sweep the Catamounts in the second game of the series on Sunday at 1 p.m.