Gophers down Seawolves, take 1-0 series lead

Barriball, Wheeler and Gordon combine for six points in win

Mark Remme

Two goals by freshman forward Jay Barriball propelled Minnesota’s men’s hockey team to a 6-2 win over Alaska Anchorage Friday at Mariucci Arena.

The Gophers, top-seeded in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association playoffs, lead the Seawolves 1-0 in the best-of-three first round series.

Barriball opened scoring at 6:56 of the first period by tapping in a pass from junior forward Ben Gordon in the slot.

“Jay’s had a nice year,” coach Don Lucia said. “He’s a natural goal-scorer – he’s done it all his life.”

Gordon and Barriball, joined by sophomore center Blake Wheeler, comprised a productive second line for Minnesota that accumulated six points in the contest.

“Before the game, coach said we’re going with the lines we used at the beginning of the year when (our line was) clicking,” Barriball said.

Minnesota found its stride on the power play Friday, going 3-for-8 including Barriball’s game-winning goal at 13:19 of the second.

It was the first time the Gophers scored multiple goals on the man-advantage since going 3-for-8 against these very Seawolves on Feb. 2.

But Minnesota wasn’t the only team sporting an effective power play. Alaska Anchorage notched two power-play goals of its own, but it was not enough to stay in contention.

The difference down the stretch was goaltending. Alaska Anchorage coach Dave Shyiak said Seawolves freshman netminder Jon Olthuis didn’t play at the same level he showed in his past four starts.

“There were a couple (goals) Jon would tell you he’d like to have back,” Shyiak said.

In the other crease, Minnesota got exactly what it needed from its goalie.

Gophers senior goaltender Kellen Briggs did his part, stopping 23 of Alaska Anchorage’s 25 shots on goal in the contest.

“Kellen had some good saves tonight,” Lucia said. “He’s done his job when he gives up two or less a game.”

The win gives Briggs 82 in his career at Minnesota, one win shy of Adam Hauser’s school record 83 victories.

GAME SUMMARY

1st 2nd 3rd — T

Seawolves 1 1 0 — 2

Gophers 2 2 2 — 6

Scoring

1st: UMN: Barriball-17 (Gordon-17, Johnson-18), Vannelli-9 (Goligoski-26, Gordon-18); UAA: Crowder-11 (Clark-8, Bourne-21)

2nd: UMN: Barriball-18 (Goligoski-27, Vannelli-22), Flynn-5 (Bostrom-4, O’Brien-7); UAA: Waldrop-5 (Beagle-10, Anderson-13)

3rd: UMN: Wheeler-14 (Gordon-19, Johnson-19), Bostrom-4 (O’Brien-8); UAA: no scoring.

Goaltending

Briggs (W 15-6-2) 23 saves

Olthuis (L 3-5-1) 26 saves

Overall Records

Minnesota: 27-8-3

Alaska Anchorage: 12-20-3

Officials: Bill Mason (Referee), Dan Carey (Linesman), Ed Moberg (Linesman)

A: 9,876