Gophers’ offense dries up in 3-2 loss

Nebraska-Omaha handed Minnesota its first home loss of the season Friday.

by Drew Claussen

Minnesota started well against Nebraska-Omaha on Friday. Then things went south, and the Gophers lost 3-2.

“The chain fell off the bike tonight,” head coach Don Lucia said. “[The Mavericks] were the better team. They deserved to win the game.”

It was Minnesota’s first loss this season at Mariucci Arena.

Captain Zach Budish committed a poor turnover in in the third period, which led to a goal by Omaha’s Josh Archibald. Budish made a lazy pass in the Gophers’ defensive zone, and Ryan Waiters picked it off before finding Archibald.

“Terrible turnover by me,” Budish said. “Give it to their two hottest players, and they made no mistake about putting it in the back of the net.”

Omaha scored first, but Minnesota bounced back to take a 2-1 lead after one period. But the Gophers’ play in the final two stanzas didn’t mirror their play in the first.

After recording 10 shots in the first period, the Gophers only had 11 shots the rest of the game.

“When you only get seven shots on net in the last 36 minutes, it doesn’t mean that we’re producing a lot.” Nate Schmidt said. “Just not getting the puck up behind the defensemen like we talked about in our game plan — we didn’t execute it.”

Omaha scored first when Dominic Zombo one-timed a pass from the boards past Minnesota goaltender Adam Wilcox.

Budish tied the game at 1-1 when he took a nifty pass from Sam Warning and beat Omaha goalie John Faulkner one-on-one on a breakaway.

Ten minutes later, Christian Isackson found the back of the net for the first time since the Gophers’ season-opening series. Isackson took a feed from Nick Bjugstad in the high slot and beat Faulkner five-hole to put Minnesota up 2-1.

Omaha’s Jaycob Megna scored on the power play as penalty time expired to tie the game at 2-2 in the second period.

Minnesota’s only solid opportunities in the final two periods came in the final 60 seconds, but Faulkner denied all of them.

The Gophers have struggled in Friday-night games since last season. They’ll try to earn a split against Omaha tomorrow at 7 p.m.

“We have to be better tomorrow to give ourselves a chance,” Lucia said.