Gophers Beat Bucky 4-3 for a Sweep
Ambroz scored two goals, and Minnesota opens Big Ten play with two wins
Minneapolis—The Gophers have leaned heavily on their freshman class early this season. The class came into Saturday night having scored 25 of the team’s 54 goals, but Saturday night against Wisconsin, juniors Seth Ambroz and Kyle Rau showed the older guys still got it.
Rau chipped in a goal, an assist, and won numerous key face-offs throughout the night. But it was Ambroz who scored two goals, including the game-winner with just 26 seconds remaining as top ranked Minnesota (11-2-1) swept Wisconsin (4-5-1) with a 4-3 win in front of 9,973 at Mariucci Arena.
“I thought Boyd’s line was really good all weekend long, and a big reason why we were able to get two wins,” said Don Lucia. “It was a much harder game tonight like we expected it to be, there wasn’t a lot of space--we had to fight for space on the ice.”
Lucia has a class of seven freshmen showing they have the ability to play at a high level. However, a group of veteran forwards, Tom Serratore, Travis Boyd, and Ambroz have shown the ability to fight for space when the game gets difficult. The game got difficult Saturday night as Wisconsin got on the board first when their defensemen Frank Simonelli got in transition, found some open space on an even man rush, and took advantage of it scoring 4:23 into the first period.
“You have to stay with games,” said Lucia. “You’re not always going to be in control when you play good teams, there are going to be periods where they’ve got you on your heels and then you have to be able to fight back for different segments of the game.”
Rau got the fight back goal for the Gophers, scoring his third of the season just 45 seconds later after the Simonelli goal. Rau found some space on the far side of the crease as Hudson Fasching had drawn both Badger defenders to him on the front side, leaving his line mate all alone back door.
“[Fasching] is a big body, he needs two guys on him,” said Rau. “I was just fortunate Warning saw me back door—I actually was in the wrong spot, I wasn’t supposed to be there, but it worked out.”
Wisconsin regained the lead at the end of the period when Nic Kerdiles completed a tic-tac-toe passing play past Wilcox at 14:39. Ambroz tied up the game again late in the second period for his sixth goal of the season at 17:51. Serratore won a puck behind the goal line and found Ambroz coming into the slot. It took two shots to get it past the goalie, but it was enough for Ambroz to get his sixth of the season.
Brady Skjei got his second goal of the season from a face-off play won by Rau to Justin Holl. Holl worked it to Skjei as he moved to the middle of the ice and the one-timer got through traffic cleanly 3:44 into the third period. Wisconsin evened the game up 10:37 into the third period when Michael Mersch muscled a Kerdiles pass into the net through traffic.
Lucia went with the Boyd line for a shift late in the game, as overtime loomed. The group of veterans were in hard on the forecheck, Boyd forced a turnover, threw the puck towards the net where a driving Ambroz was able to direct it past Badger goalie Joel Rumpel for the winner.
“My line mates played really well this weekend,” said Ambroz “I’ve just got to give a lot of credit to them, I was just been fortunate enough to put it in.”
The humble junior has been a bright spot for the maroon and gold this season. The team gained a lot of pace with their seven freshman and the 6’3” 215 lbs junior has made strides in his game to keep pace.
“I think Seth worked hard on his game this summer, his skating has improved and we’re playing him a lot of minutes, whether power play or penalty kill, but he’s just an honest hard working guy and he’s going to score some goals by getting around the net and the blue paint,” said Lucia. “He’s not pretty coming down the rink, but he’s heavy on pucks and he’s scored like we expected him to score this weekend.”
The Gophers finish their opening stretch of play next weekend at Michigan State for a Friday and Saturday series with start times of 6pm and 3pm.
Gophers Flatten Badgers 4-1
Ambroz Scores Twice to Pace Minnesota
Minneapolis – Two very different styles of hockey clashed as Minnesota played Wisconsin for the 268th time today at Mariucci Arena. Wisconsin plays their defensive, slow-it-down style of play, and is very good playing to their “systems”. In the past, this style has given Minnesota fits. This version of the Gophers, however, would not be slowed down by the Badger trap. Minnesota skated around Wisconsin en route to a 4-1 victory, getting first period goals by Mike Reilly and Seth Ambroz to put them ahead for good.
A 4:00 start time meant a scant crowd at Mariucci arena, but the Gophers didn’t seem to need the energy of a raucous home crowd to get going. Games between the Gophers and the Badgers in the recent past seem to have a very similar quality: the Gophers get the majority of the chances, but Wisconsin capitalizes on their limited chances to keep the game close. The same held true for much of the game tonight. Minnesota carried the play early on in the period, but Wisconsin struck first on just their second shot of the game. A bouncing puck fell right to Joe LaBate in the slot, and he put it past Gopher goalie Adam Wilcox before Wilcox knew what had happened. The goal, scored at 6:31, put the Badgers up 1-0.
Minnesota would strike back just under three minutes later on the powerplay, as Mike Reilly’s seeing-eye shot made it through a sea of bodies and into the net. The Gophers would tack on another one at 13:14, as Seth Ambroz banked the puck off Badger goalie Landon Peterson from behind the goal line. The Gophers went into the intermission ahead 2-1, a lead that they’d never look back from.
There would be no goals scored in the second period, but this is the period where the Gophers really pressed their advantage and controlled the game. Minnesota outshot Wisconsin 12-4 in the period, killing three Badger powerplays in the process. Adam Wilcox made several huge saves on the powerplay to keep the Gophers in the lead, and after two periods Minnesota still held a slim 2-1 lead.
This type of game is just what Wisconsin wants: they had been outshot and outchanced badly through two periods, but they have a chance to win in the third. The Gophers would not allow the Badgers to get back into it though. Connor Reilly scored on a three-on-two rush at 10:46 to put the Gophers up 3-1, and though Wisconsin had some quality chances down the stretch, Wilcox came up huge to hold the Badgers off the scoresheet. Seth Ambroz scored an empty netter as time wound down to give the Gophers a 4-1 lead, and that’s how the game would end.
The Gophers face the Badgers again tomorrow at 5:00 PM.
Notes & Quotes
Three Stars of the Game: 3) Adam Wilcox, 2) Mike Reilly, 1) Seth Ambroz
Final shots on goal: Gophers 45, Badgers 25
On the transition to the Big Ten: “It was important to us to get the first Big Ten win ever. We talked about it a lot in practice this week.”
On the powerplay, jokingly: “The three guys that ran the powerplay last year are all in the NHL now, and they all could’ve come back. I guarantee you that the powerplay would be better off with those guys in the lineup.”
On the “specialty teams”: “We were plus on the specialty teams tonight. That’s important.”
On the third line: “I thought they played extremely well today. They’re the line we wanted out there late in the third period. We have a very young team, so having a veteran line like that is important.”
On Taylor Cammarata: “He’s day-to-day. There’s no rush to bring him back before he’s at 100%.”
Lethargic Gophers Fall 6-2 to Bulldogs
Poor Special Teams Play Dooms Minnesota
Minneapolis - Minnesota may have been thinking back to Friday night’s 6-1 triumph when designing the game plan to Sunday afternoon’s contest. In Friday’s game, Minnesota-Duluth drew first blood, but the Gophers came back with six unanswered goals, paving the way to a 6-1 win.
The Gophers again let the Bulldogs score first in Sunday’s contest. After that, though, the two games could not have been more divergent. UMD scored three times in the first period and never looked back, handing Minnesota their second loss of the season by a 6-2 score.
The Gophers (9-2-1 Overall) got off to a good start in the first period, controlling the puck and peppering Duluth goalie Matt McNeely often in the early going. Minnesota would kill its own momentum, though, on an early powerplay. Brady Skjei went off for tripping at 4:43, but two quick Bulldog penalties later and the Gophers had a minute of 5x3 with just under seven minutes gone in the opening frame.
The powerplay, slogging along at just 14.3% coming into the game, came up empty once again. Actually, worse than empty. Dominic Toninato scored shorthanded at 7:47 to give the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead. After the penalties were killed off, UMD seized the momentum. A great offensive zone shift in which the Gophers simply could not clear the puck led to another Bulldog goal, this time from Tony Cameranesi. The even strength goal at 10:12 gave Duluth a two-goal lead.
Minnesota would take two penalties within three seconds of each other in the 15th minute of the period, giving the Bulldogs their own extended 5x3 chance. They’d only need seven seconds, though, to score another one. This time, Justin Crandall fired it past Adam Wilcox from beside the goal to give Duluth a 3-0 lead.
The Gophers would get two more powerplay chances before the period expired, but again came up empty handed. Although Minnesota outshot UMD 13-8 in the period, the Gophers entered the dressing room down by three goals after one.
Minnesota would start the second period with 1:24 of leftover powerplay time, but despite a few quality looks they again could not dent the twine. They’d finally get on the board at 11:18 of the second on a Mike Reilly snapshot from the point. The goal – on Minnesota’s sixth powerplay chance of the afternoon – came from Rau and Warning, and would draw the Gophers to within two at 3-1.
Duluth would capitalize on their next two powerplay chances, though, to extend the lead to 5-1, with Austin Farley and Kyle Osterberg had the PP goals for UMD in the second. Minnesota couldn’t muster much of anything else in the remainder of the period on offense, although they did get into a scuffle at the end of the second and Ben Marshall was ejected for facemasking.
UMD started the third with 1:48 of powerplay, and would strike gold again at 1:05 of the third. The early goal gave them a 6-1 lead. Minnesota would score on yet another powerplay (2-10 in the game) with 11:04 left to draw within four at 6-2. Michael Brodzinski netted his fourth of the year on a shot from the high slot, with assists to Connor Reilly and Christian Isackson.
That was all for the Gophers, though. The 6-2 final was the team’s second loss of the season. The Gophers will look to rebound against Wisconsin Friday night. The game will mark the start of the Big Ten season.
Notes & Quotes:
McNeely, Caleb Herbert and Justin Crandall were the three stars of the game.
Michael Shibrowski replaced Adam Wilcox in net after the Bulldogs' fifth goal
UMD Head Coach Scott Sandelin: “I really liked our kids’ response to [the Friday game]”, “[Goaltender McNeely’s] performance was huge, especially on the early 5-on-3”, “Our powerplay got going tonight.”
Don Lucia: “There were big flaws in the special teams play tonight”, “We weren’t disciplined, from all of the penalties all the way to not getting our sticks into lanes on the penalty kill.”
Travis Boyd: “Surprising to have such a lopsided weekend, normally games against [UMD] are tight”, “It was hard to get in a rhythm with so many penalties, lots of times guys wouldn’t play for long stretches of time because of the powerplays or penalty kills”, “I just don’t think we were mentally dialed in.” On what they took away from the game: “We need to bring it every night.”
Gophers Snipe Their Way Past Bulldogs 6-1
Minnesota Gets Six Goals from Six Different Players in Victory
Minneapolis—The Gophers almost looked disinterested as they sleepwalked through the early moments of their series with in-state, but now out-of-conference rival Bulldogs. Minnesota-Duluth got on the board first, but Minnesota responded after a television timeout with three first period goals over a three-minute span en route to a 6-1 win over Minnesota-Duluth in front of 9,918 at Mariucci Arena.
The Gophers (9-1-1) have been getting scoring from throughout their lineup this season, and Friday was no different. Six different players scored, including players from all four lines. Adam Wilcox got a night off last Saturday against Minnesota State, but shook off any rust quickly as he made a career high 36 saves on 37 shots. Wilcox fought the puck early, giving up a few rebounds, but settled in after an early goal.
“Really the difference for me was Wilcox was very good in the net, we had a little puck luck go our way and they didn’t,” said Minnesota Coach Don Lucia. “That was not a 6-1 game.”
While the five-on-five play has been solid, Lucia is still searching for someone to play the off wing on the top power play. It’s been Travis Boyd, it’s been Connor Reilly, and Friday night it was Michael Brodzinski. The power play groups had a couple short opportunities as they went 1-5 with the man advantage, but it was Brodzinski scoring the unit’s lone power play goal.
“We’ve been rotating guys in different spots, and there are hard decision on who is in our lineup and who’s not,” said Lucia. “Brodzinski was brought in to be an offensive defenseman. He’s got the good hands, he can shoot it, and he’s got a very low panic point with the puck. So I think he needs to play in those situations, but he’s also got to earn the right to play in our lineup every night.”
Minnesota slogged through the opening 12 minutes. The forwards were struggling to gain the zone, the defensemen were leaving big gaps, and Wilcox gave up a few rebounds. The Bulldog’s took advantage of one rebound, getting on the board first when Cal Decowski won a puck over to Charlie Sampair. Sampair put the puck off Wilcox’s pads, was all-alone to pick up the rebound and score his first college goal 4:19 into the first period.
“I think after that first timeout, we talked about how we got to get better,” said Lucia. “They were winning the races to loose pucks, they were the more assertive team, and they were the better team at that point of the game.”
The game turned off that first television timeout when Taylor Cammarata gained the zone fighting through a stick check and hit A.J. Michaelson on the tape. Michaelson was driving into the paint and tapped it in at 14:14 to tied the game 1-1.
“Our fourth line got a big goal, and I thought we were playing well and doing the right things,” said UMD Coach Scott Sandelin. “Then they got one back, from that point they got some momentum, and I thought we made it pretty easy for them after that at times, especially in the second period.”
Tom Serratore got the Gophers on the board next at 16:32. The senior’s play has turned for the better since getting a little more prodding from the coaching staff, and he took advantage of a chance Friday, sniping one into the upper right corner. Thirty-six seconds later Justin Kloos gained the zone on a rush, and unleashed a laser top shelf to make it 3-1.
The floodgates started to open 5:26 into the second period as Kyle Rau got his second goal of the season, and first since opening night, when he was left all alone to put in a loose puck off a Sam Warning wrap-around attempt. Boyd continued the Gopher trend of picking the top corner, when he made a toe move past a sliding shot blocker, and sniped one for his third goal of the season at 12:36.
The Boyd goal chased Aaron Crandall from the nets and Matt McNeely came on in relief. Brodzinksi then got his third goal of the season on the power play at 17:07, taking a pass from Mike Reilly on the off-wing and firing it back across the net into the upper right corner—even with a new goalie it was the fourth top corner snipe of the game for Minnesota.
The win was the fifth for the Gophers over their in-state rivals, and they’ll meet Duluth again on Sunday at 4pm to try and make it six.
“The Minnesota rivalries are huge for us. We come into these games, we want to be the best team in Minnesota,” said Serratore. “We were 4-0 coming in tonight and that is kind of something we take pride in here at the U.”
GOLDEN NUGGETS: Michaelson’s goal means only Justin Holl, Christian Isackson, Jake Parenteau, and Gabe Guertler have played in games without scoring this season… Sandelin is taking his team back to Duluth Friday night and they’ll bus back down on Sunday. They found out six days ago that the series would be a Friday, Saturday tilt, and he down played any difficulty with the travel—although he noted how much he wished they were playing the Gophers at AmSoil. Minnesota isn’t scheduled to play in Duluth until the season they’re out of the North Star Cup… Minnesota has now been ranked first in the nation for five straight weeks… The Big Ten Hockey Conference kicks off its season next weekend as Wisconsin travels to Mariucci Arena for a series Nov. 29 and 30, while Michigan and Ohio State play a home and home series Nov. 29 and Dec. 2... Lucia noted that Wilcox's game last Friday night was his best of season, that he planned to give Michael Shibrowski the Saturday night start, and he had no qualms going with Wilcox again Friday night against Duluth... Kyle Rau was 11-3 in the face-off circle and had 1G-1A on the night. He also got under the skin of a few Bulldogs. He was actively chirping the entire night, but he also stayed out of the box while drawing a few calls.
3-0 Win Means Battle Hymn Time at Mariucci Arena
Shibrowski Gets Start and Delivers 25 Save Shutout
Minneapolis--After nearly 10-months serving as the back-up, Michael Shibrowski got another chance to play between the pipes for Minnesota. Lucia felt the senior showed great commitment to the team, gave him the nod, and Shibrowski delivered. The senior from Benilde-St. Margret’s made 25 saves as the top ranked Gophers (8-1-1) beat the Mavericks (4-7-0) 3-0 in front of 9,838 at Mariucci Arena.
Shibrowski played only three games last season. He started two games against Michigan State and Michigan Tech, and then got into the action against Alaska Anchorage near the end of a 7-1 blowout. The emergence of Adam Wilcox and a tight WCHA race made it difficult for Don Lucia to rotate goalies last season. Lucia knew he wanted to find a game to play Shibrowski in this season, and during a meeting with the captains Kyle Rau and Nate Condon the coach heard the players also wanted Shibrowski to get a game.
“Guys love him, he’s a tremendous teammate,” said Lucia. “He’s a guy that even though he hasn’t played much, he works as hard as anybody on our team. He stays after practice and takes shots from the guys, and the guys were excited for his start tonight. I thought they would be and I thought we played a little bit better, a bit tighter defensively tonight.”
Minnesota State didn’t make it an easy night for Shibrowski either. The Mavericks funneled pucks and traffic to the paint, but there weren’t many rebounds for them once they got there.
“You can’t replicate that kind of intensity in practice,” said Shibrowski. “You do some traffic drills, but there’s something about that game atmosphere, it’s a little bit of that chaos, it was a little bit different feel, but that’s kind of the fun part too.”
Shibrowski had to help turn away numerous Maverick surges as the Gophers struggled to generate much of anything coming off their Friday night’s season low of 30 shots on goal. But Minnesota got a flash from one of their freshman getting his first chance to play back-to-back games this season.
“[Jake Bischoff] hadn’t had the opportunity to do that this year, so it was a tough call on who to take out and we wanted to get Justin back in [the lineup],” said Lucia. "And the freshmen are putting pressure on the older guys based on how they’re playing.”
While Michael Brodzinksi was the odd man out, Bischoff delivered for Lucia, getting his third goal of the season 6:20 into the first period. Sam Warning and Hudson Fasching got the assists, but it was a courageous play by Kyle Rau giving up his body to gain the red line that really led to the scoring opportunity.
“Rau drew a couple people to him and then he got it in deep, Warning passed it over to Fasching, and bunch of people were by Rau so there was opening in the middle of the ice and I sort of went down and Fasching hit me with a great pass,” said Bischoff. “Rau’s a great player, draws people to him all the time and opens up space for the rest of us.”
Ricky Gervais appeared to get an equalizer a few minutes later as he deflected a puck past Shibrowski. A replay clearly showed Gervais punched the puck in, and also showed Gervais immediately turning towards the official hoping for a goal call.
The second was scoreless, and then Tom Serratore got the Gophers an insurance goal and his first of the season at 11:05 of the third. Serratore capitalized on a Justin Holl goal line to goal line rush where the puck spilled out into the crease and as Cole Huggins tried to cover it up, Serratore put it top shelf. Fasching then put the game away at 13:56 when he one-timed a Sam Warning pass into the back of the net.
All that was left was defending the shutout, and as the final horn blew, teammates surrounded Shibrowski in the crease.
“It’s definitely something special,” said Shibrowski. “You can’t say enough about the kind of bond we have in there, and throughout the game I can’t tell you how many guys were stepping up, blocking shots, or doing everything they can to help me. So that probably means the most to me, is that they’re out there to help me. And my main focus was to do my part to help us win, because I want to be there for them too.”
GOLDEN NUGGETS: Connor Reilly scored Friday night during his first game playing with Mike Reilly, Warning, Fasching, and Rau. Lucia decided to stick with him on the first unit for the second night in a row as one of the triggermen atop the circle. The second unit was the same as Friday night too with Nate Condon, Justin Kloos, Taylor Cammarata, Seth Ambroz, and Ben Marshall sticking together. Both units had smooth zone entries and were able to work the puck around during their first period opportunity… It was almost like the old times at Mariucci Arena with Marco Hunt serving as one of the officials; both teams were given liberty to be a little more clutch/grab and physical on the ice without as much fear of being penalized. There were only four penalties called Saturday… Christian Isackson returned to the lineup in place of Gabe Guertler up front, and Justin Holl returned to the blue line corps in place of Michael Brodzinksi. 3rd star Serratore, 2nd star Bischoff, 1st star Shibrowski. Heart of the Game was also Shibrowski, pretty good night for a kid who just celebrated his 23rd birthday Friday.