Gophers defeat USA Under-18 team

The Gophers had five goals in the third period to take a 7-1 victory.

Junior Ryan Zuhlsdorf skates past the University of Minnesota Duluth toward the puck during the game on Sunday, Oct. 7 at Mariucci Arena. The Gophers won 7-4.

Ellen Schmidt

Junior Ryan Zuhlsdorf skates past the University of Minnesota Duluth toward the puck during the game on Sunday, Oct. 7 at Mariucci Arena. The Gophers won 7-4.

Jack Warrick

The Gophers started slow, but ended with a convincing victory over some of the country’s top players who are under 18 years old on Saturday.

Minnesota used a five-goal third period to take a 7-1 victory over the USA Under-18 Team in Plymouth, Michigan in an exhibition game.

“First period I thought was intense, it went up and down,” head coach Bob Motzko told Gophers’ public relations. “And then they got a little tired, and we kept getting stronger.”

Joey Marooney and Rem Pitlick each scored two goals against the young team. Pitlick led the team with three total points, along with an assist to a Brent Gates Jr. goal in the third.

The Gophers were held scoreless in the first period, but broke the silence with an unassisted Pitlick goal halfway through the second period. Defenseman Robbie Stucker scored the second goal in that frame to go into the third period with a 2-0 lead.

The only goal scored by the USA Under-18 team was from Judd Caulfield, a Grand Forks, North Dakota native, who scored first, with 2:07 played in the third period. Caulfield will play for North Dakota next season.

Captain Tyler Sheehy scored in the third period with assists from Sampo Ranta and Tommy Novak. Ranta has had a point in each of the last three games.

Gophers goalie Eric Schierhorn made his 2018-19 season debut, saving 29 out of 30 shots. 

“First start in forever, you know, so you … go out there with a little jitters,” Schierhorn told Gophers’ public relations. “But I felt good, I thought I … kept my game simple, didn’t over-move.”

The Gophers will take on Trinity Western University on Saturday, Oct. 20 in another exhibition game, before playing North Dakota the next weekend in Las Vegas.

“We did a lot of good things early in our season, a lot of things we can keep building on,” Motzko told Gophers’ public relations. “The mistakes that we make, that’s going to happen no matter what, so we just keep learning from them and moving forward.”