Wilcox shutout moves him to second on Minnesota all-time list
Minneapolis, Minn. – It took a couple weeks, but Minnesota finally found their game again. Five different players scored, and Adam Wilcox recorded his ninth career shutout as the top-ranked Gophers (6-1-0) defeated #14 Notre Dame (5-3-1) in front of 10,052 at Mariucci Arena.
“I thought our effort was really good tonight, and for the first time all year I thought our forwards worked in the offensive zone,” said Gophers coach Don Lucia. “We were able to get some pucks behind the D, and I thought we did a good job of controlling the puck in the offensive zone.”
The coaching staff noticed their team was accepting too many one and done opportunities off their attack, and were relying on chances off the rush. Lucia was happy to see his team finally grinding away an opponent and wearing them down.
“We played with our knees bent all night long,” said Lucia. “We played a fast transition game, the way we need to play.”
Five different players got goals, Justin Kloos, Leon Bristdet, Mike Reilly, Sam Warning and Ben Marshall chipped in as 12 different players got points Friday. The goals from M. Reilly and Marshall were the first non-empty-net goals from the Gopher blue line in their seven games. Last year, the team had the second leading goal scoring defensive corps in the nation.
The Gophers got an early power play and capitalized. Taylor Cammarata worked the puck down to the right wing side, Kyle Rau passed up a shot and moved the puck across the crease to Kloos on the back door. Kloos kicked it from his skates to his backhand and beat Notre Dame goalie Cal Petersen to the back post for his team leading sixth goal of the season at 2:09.
The Gophers were in control for much of the period outshooting the Fighting Irish 18-6 and out attempting them 27-16. The only times Notre Dame generated any offense came off of Minnesota mistakes at the offensive blue line. Ben Marshall got caught on a pinch to give up a 2-1, and then Ryan Collins lost an edge to give up a 2-0; Wilcox bailed out both defenders with big saves.
“We had some [bad] pinches, we fell over one time to give up the 2-on-0, but I thought the young guys battled pretty good,” said Lucia. “I thought we had a really good game out of Jake Bischoff tonight. It was nice to see our defensemen chip in with a couple goals, could have had a third if it wouldn’t have been called back.”
The Gophers thought they extended their lead to 2-0 3:20 into the second period, when Jake Bischoff’s point shot found the back of the net. But the referees went to video review and waived off the goal due to goaltender interference. Vinni Lettieri skated through the crease to the front of the paint, Petersen looked to make contact with him, and went down as the shot came in from the point. The officials told Lucia that they felt that Lettieri got into the goaltender in the blue paint before he came out of it.
Lucia was a little worried that the waived off goal could have been a turning point in the game, but Bristedt scored his first goal as a Gopher 12:04 into the second period, extending Minnesota’s lead to two. The Swede collected a Hudson Fasching saucer pass in transition, took advantage of some space, and whipped it into the upper left corner.
“I would consider myself a goal scorer, and if you miss, if you don’t get a goal for a couple games, you start maybe get a lack of confidence, but I stick to it and work very hard and finally got one,” said Bristedt.
Minnesota pulled away early in the third period with a one-timer by M. Reilly that found the upper corner at 1:49, a loose puck that Warning pounced on at 2:42, and a one-timer by Marshall at 17:51.
Wilcox didn’t see a lot of rubber throughout the night, but Lucia thought his goalie got back to playing his best by being calm and quiet.
“I started to feel like myself tonight and kind of back to how I felt last year,” said Wilcox. “I just need to get a little more balanced, a little more calm and I was working on that in practice and had a good week of practice and it carried over into the game.”
The goalie is now second on the Gophers all-time shutout list with nine. Only Kellen Briggs is ahead of the junior with 13 career shutouts. Wilcox also passed Jeff Stolp’s 56 career wins to move up to fifth on the career wins list at 57. Ahead of him are Briggs (84), Adam Hauser (83), Robb Stauber (73) and John Blue (64).
Minnesota and Notre Dame meet again on Sunday at 4 PM, televised on ESPNU, streamed on WatchESPN, and broadcasted on 1500 ESPN.
GOLDEN NUGGETS: Wilcox said it was thinking about doing what Leggio did in the AHL game this week that spread through hockey on Monday. Wilcox decided against knocking the net off, and noted that the Irish skated themselves to his side of the net the 2-0, giving him a bit of an advantage not worrying about them going left to right… “Our blue line, Isackson line, played really well tonight. Did a good job, played with tempo and speed… spent a lot of time in the offensive zone,” said Lucia… The Gophers first power play group was Rau, Kloos, Fasching, Cammarata and M. Reilly. The second group was Connor Reilly, Bristedt, Warning, Mike Brodzinksi and Christian Isackson or Seth Ambroz… “[College hockey] is actually so much bigger than I thought it would be,” said Bristedt. “It’s a lot more north, south game coming from a European style game, lot of criss-cross, lot of puck possession. It’s more north-south, chip it in, chip it out. The adjustment has been harder than I thought it’d be, but I’m getting there and getting better every game.”
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