Minnesota, No. 2 Sioux split breaks, series

Shots that hit the post in Friday’s loss found their way into the net in Saturday’s 6-0 win.

Mike Mullen

Two plays from Minnesota’s men’s hockey team’s series at North Dakota this weekend told the story.

On Friday, with the Gophers holding a 2-1 lead in the second period, North Dakota’s Colby Genoway sent a slap shot on net that deflected twice and wobbled into the back of the net to tie the game.

On Saturday, Minnesota center Gino Guyer’s slap shot skidded onto Barry Tallackson’s stick and deflected up and over the shoulder pads of Sioux goaltender Jordan Parise, giving Minnesota the first of many goals to come.

No. 7 Minnesota (3-2-0, 1-1-0 WCHA) split the two-game series that kicked off its WCHA conference schedule, losing Friday’s contest 4-2 and dominating Saturday’s game 6-0 against the second-ranked Sioux.

On Friday, it seemed that the puck was taking deflections in North Dakota’s favor – as evidenced by Minnesota’s four shots that hit the post and a pair of redirected Sioux goals. On Saturday, the bounces all belonged to the Gophers.

“We played well on Friday night. We just didn’t get the breaks,” sophomore goalie Kellen Briggs said. “Those shots that were hitting the post on Friday were going in (Saturday).”

Of course, to get lucky breaks, one at least needs to get shots, which North Dakota struggled to do Saturday. At the end of the first period, Minnesota had three goals and the Sioux had three shots.

On the weekend, the Gophers outshot North Dakota 72-47.

Coach Don Lucia, who had come into the series wondering how much his travel-weary team had left in the tank, said that advantage surprised him.

“I was worried about what kind of energy we would have after last weekend,” Lucia said, referring to the Oct. 16 – Oct. 17 Frontier Classic in Anchorage, Alaska. “I think (we got so many shots) because our defense was moving the puck, and our forwards did a great job of cycling it.”

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that center Ryan Potulny is raking in points like dead leaves. Potulny scored a goal and hit two posts in Friday’s loss, and notched two lamplighters Saturday, including a stunning second goal that made the score 4-0 and quieted the raucous crowd at Ralph Engelstad Arena.

On that goal, Potulny took a pass from Tyler Hirsch inside the left circle and spun completely around to protect the puck. The sophomore put a pair of tiny touches on the puck and used what Lucia called the quickest wrists on the team to flick his shot top-shelf.

In the third period, Potulny had a shot at his second hat trick this season with a two-on-one breakaway. But he instead elected to slide the puck to Danny Irmen, who slapped the pass in for the sixth goal.

“There was no need to be selfish there,” Potulny said. “I just read the play. The goalie got down to make a save, so I faked a shot, made the pass and Danny finished it.”

Vanelli could miss game

Mike Vanelli drew a 10-minute misconduct penalty at the end of the second period for fighting with North Dakota forward Rory McMahon. The fight, which Lucia said was started by the Sioux, should result in a one-game suspension for both participants.