Dec. 14, 2008

Courtesy of Minnesota

Minnesota scored three power play goals and used a solid defensive effort to take a series-opening 4-1 victory from Colorado College on Saturday at Mariucci Arena.

The Gophers scored on three of their four power play chances in the game and have now scored on five of their last seven man-advantage opportunities over the past three games. Also, for the second straight game, Minnesota played without three of its top forwards in Jay Barriball, Mike Carman and Taylor Matson. In their place, two Minnesota players scored their first career goals for the second straight game as Jake Hansen and Nico Sacchetti each scored.

The win snapped Minnesota’s three-game winless streak and put the second-ranked Gophers at 8-2-5 overall and 7-1-3 in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. Defending WCHA champion Colorado College, ranked ninth in the USCHO/CBS College Sports poll, is now 9-6-4 overall and 6-5-2 in the league.

Minnesota struck on its first power play chance of the game when Mike Hoeffel wristed a shot from a sharp angle over the shoulder of Tigers’ goaltender Richard Bachman at the 6:21 mark. Hoeffel took a cross-ice pass from Jordan Schroeder and scored past Bachman, who was playing with a defenseman’s stick after his goalie stick was knocked away. Cade Fairchild also assisted the goal, which involved all three Gopher players recently named to the U.S. under-20 world junior squad.

Just over one minute later, the Gophers pushed the lead to 2-0 as Jake Hansen scored his first career goal at the 7:23 mark. Patrick White took a shot from the faceoff dot that Hansen tipped in while sliding into the crease. Tony Lucia also assisted the goal, which was confirmed after a replay review.

Colorado College scored on a strange play at the 13:59 mark of the opening period as Bill Sweatt tipped in a shot from the blue line by Gabe Guentzel, who broke his stick and sent a slow shot in front that trickled through a screen and past Gophers’ netminder Alex Kangas. Chad Rau also picked up an assist on the play.

Minnesota outshot the Tigers 12-8 in the first period and went ahead 3-1 midway through the second period on its second power play chance as Fairchild launched a shot from the point that found the upper corner of the net. Schroeder and Ryan Stoa each had assists on the goal at the 10:06 mark of the period. The goal was also confirmed by replay and was one of Minnesota’s three shots the entire period as the Tigers held an 11-3 advantage during the stanza.

Colorado College had three shots in the first 10 minutes of the third period, but had chances later in the frame when Minnesota committed back-to-back penalties, giving the Tigers a 36-second five-on-three power play. The Gophers held the Tigers without a shot on the five-on-three and then killed off the remainder of the penalty. Colorado College had three power play chances in the third period and failed to score on five chances in the game against Minnesota’s penalty kill, which ranks second in the country at 93.0 percent.

The Gophers had two power play opportunities in the final period and converted the second as Sacchetti scored off a perfect pass from Stoa at the 18:37 mark. Hoeffel also collected an assist.

Colorado College owned a 26-25 advantage in shots, though the Gophers outshot the Tigers 10-7 in the final period. Kangas made 25 saves for Minnesota and Bachman stopped 21 shots for the Tigers.

The teams play again Sunday at Mariucci Arena at 4 p.m.