Gophers Win Big in B1G Opener

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Gophers Win Big in B1G Opener

Post by Eckes » Sat Dec 06 11:22 am

Wilcox Nets Shutout in 5-0 Victory, Boyd Scores Game Winner in Return to Lineup

East Lansing, Michigan - Minnesota's special teams were on full display Friday night.

The Gophers were +4 on special teams Friday, scoring three power play goals and one shorthanded goal to breeze past Michigan State.

Despite an up-and-down first few months of the season, the Gophers showed why they were the preseason favorite to win the B1G conference Friday night. Minnesota (9-4-0 Overall, 1-0-0 B1G) dominated the Michigan State Spartans (5-9-0, 1-2-0), scoring three goals in the first period and getting solid netminding from junior Adam Wilcox to secure their first conference win of the season.

Minnesota's advantage on the man-advantage started early, as Travis Boyd scored his fourth goal of the season on the power play at just 3:25 of the first period. Boyd camped out on the weak side of the goal and fired a shallow-angle shot into the open net to kick off the scoring for the Gophers. Michigan State settled down a bit after that, generating some chances and drawing a power play on a Mike Reilly boarding call at 8:09. However, Minnesota's Sam Warning was able to convert a shorthanded rebound at 8:50 to give the Gophers an early 2-0 lead, and from there the outcome never seemed in doubt. Kyle Rau tacked on another powerplay goal on a nice backhand shot off the rush at 13:57 to give the Gophers a comfortable three-goal cushion heading into the first intermission.

The Gophers were able to dominate puck possession most of the night, but they perhaps did so most effectively in the second period. Knowing Michigan State would come out of the locker room firing, the Gophers did a good job of protecting the puck and creating their own chances to limit the impact the Spartan offense could have. Mike Reilly scored his third goal of the season at 3:47 of the period to solidify the Gopher lead at 4-0. Minnesota did not allow MSU much zone possession in the period, and the few chances that slipped through the defense were saved by the solid play of Wilcox in net.

Minnesota added to their lead in the third period on a late 5x3, with Connor Reilly notching his fifth of the season on a wicked one-time blast from the high slot. Adam Wilcox ended up making 24 saves for the shutout.

All in all, it was a solid performance from a team that has sputtered of late. Although the Gophers did not dominate the five-on-five play like they can, it is good to see them so thoroughly control the special teams battle.

The two teams return to action this evening at 4:00 Central Time, on FSN Plus, BTN2Go streaming and AM1500 on your radio dial.


Shots on Goal: 28 for Minnesota, 24 for Michigan State

Faceoffs: 29 Minnesota, 28 MSU (Gophers on the season are winning 53.2% of the draws)

Minnesota's power play was 3-7 on the night, putting them at 31.7% on the season.

The Gopher PK unit killed off all three of MSU's power play opportunities and now sits at 82.8% on the year.

Three Stars of the Game: 3) Mike Reilly, 2) Adam Wilcox, 1) Sam Warning

The shutout was Adam Wilcox's third of the season and 10th as a Gopher, which puts him 2nd all time for the University of Minnesota (Kellen Briggs - 13)

Multiple Point-Getters: Three Points - Mike Reilly (1G-2A); Two Points - Travis Boyd (1G-1A), Sam Warning (1G-1A), Justin Kloos (0G-2A)
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