Kyle Rau’s Hat Trick Powers Gophers to 6-2 Win
Minneapolis, MN – Kyle Rau didn’t want the fans to wait too long to see the next Gopher hat trick.
The senior captain scored three goals of his own just six days after Travis Boyd’s hatty, as Minnesota (15-9-3 Overall, 6-2-3-0 B1G) cruised to a 6-2 win over B1G-leading Michigan (16-9-0 Overall, 8-2-0-2 B1G). The win moved the Gophers to 21 points in the conference, just three behind the Wolverines for the lead.
Kyle Rau got his first goal of the game on the team’s first powerplay opportunity. Rau took a pass from Mike Reilly at the top of the zone, before running a nice give-and-go with Taylor Cammarata to Michigan goalie Zach Nagelvoort’s left. Rau’s one-time shot from the slot off of the pass back from Cammarata found the corner and gave the Gophers their first lead at 6:28 of the period.
Ambroz scored the separation goal at 16:07 of the period, when Travis Boyd tipped a Mike Reilly wrister through Zach Nagelvoort’s pads. The puck came to rest behind the Wolverine keeper in the crease, but Ambroz was on the doorstep to whack the puck in.
Vinni Lettieri capped off a great first period just 53 seconds later, scoring the Gophers third goal of the frame after a Taylor Cammarata shot from Nagelvoort’s left clanged off the far post and sat there long enough for Lettieri to clean up the rebound.
Minnesota’s Ambroz took a late penalty in the first period that could have potentially given Michigan a spark, but it was Mike Reilly scoring first in the second period on a one-time slapper at 7:19 to put the Gophers up 4-0. Kyle Rau added a shorthanded goal at 11:17 to make it 5-0.
Michigan’s Boo Nieves scored to get the Wolverines on the board late in the second, but there would be no miracle comeback mounted tonight from the boys in Maize and Blue.
Rau capped off the hat trick at 5:32 of the final period, creating a partial break off a Michigan turnover and firing a wrister from the circle that beat new Michigan goalie Steve Racine. Michigan’s Nieves scored his second of the game at 14:13 to make it 6-2, but there was no scoring after that.
Minnesota held apace at T-13 in the Pairwise rankings after the game, but the win meant a lot more in the B1G Conference race. The Gophers now sit at 21 points, one back of Penn State and just three back of conference-leading Michigan. A win tomorrow would mean that the Gophers would be tied with Michigan heading into the final eight games of the regular season – four of which coming against the Nittany Lions.
Tomorrow night’s game comes on Valentine’s Day and is airing on FSN+, streaming on BTN2Go and on the radio on 1500 ESPN. The puck drops at 7:00.
Notes & Quotes:
Three Stars of the Game: 3) Taylor Cammarata (0G-2A), 2) Mike Reilly (1-3), 1) Kyle Rau (3-0)
Kyle Rau’s hat trick was the second Gopher hat trick in a row – Travis Boyd scored three goals just six nights ago against Ohio State
Rau now has 152 points as a Gopher, good for 26th all-time. Up next is Jason Miller at 154. Some other more recent Gophers up next for Kyle Rau to catch: Mike Crowley 157, Reggie Berg 158, Ryan Kraft 166, Erik Westrum 168, Troy Riddle 177, John Pohl 200, Brian Bonin 216
Mike Reilly’s four point night was a career best for the junior defenseman. He now leads the team with five goals and 27 assists for 32 points on the season.
Gophers with multiple point nights: 4 - Mike Reilly (1G-3A), 3 – Kyle Rau (3-0), 2 – Taylor Cammarata (0-2), Travis Boyd (0-2)
The top-ranked Gopher powerplay was 1-3 on the night, while the penalty kill went 2-3
Final shots on goal were 34 for Minnesota and 23 for Michigan
Tonight was the tenth time this season that Minnesota has scored five or more goals in a game, and the fourth time they've scored at least six. The Gophers now have three wins on the season that came by a 6-2 final score.
The win was Minnesota's 300th victory in Mariucci Arena.
Gopher coach Don Lucia stated he was “happy with how [the team] defended.” He said that he can tell “the team is more invested” in what they’re doing, and a key indicator of that is blocked shots – “guys are giving it all up on defense.”
Lucia on being hit in the head by a puck in the second period: “It’s an upper body injury.”
Kyle Rau, on the hat trick: “I don’t usually shoot from that far out, I was fortunate that they went in tonight.” On whether he was looking for the hat trick on the rush in the third period: “No, I was just looking for a spot [to shoot the puck].” On tomorrow’s game: “Obviously they’re going to bring it tomorrow, so we need to be ready.” On the team mentality: “We’re a defensive team. When we play good defense is when we win.”
Mike Reilly, on the difference between tonight’s game and the Michigan sweep in Ann Arbor: “A lot of their goals a few weeks ago were off of turnovers. We did a good job limiting turnovers and we didn’t give them many chances.”
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