Schierhorn, Robson split time in the crease for the Gophers

Mat Robson took the loss and faced 39 shots in the first game against St. Lawrence, while Eric Schierhorn faced 12 shots and took a win on Saturday.

Goaltender Eric Schierhorn takes a water break at Mariucci Arena on Saturday, Nov. 17. The Gophers beat the St. Lawrence Saints 3-0.

Tony Saunders

Goaltender Eric Schierhorn takes a water break at Mariucci Arena on Saturday, Nov. 17. The Gophers beat the St. Lawrence Saints 3-0.

Jack Warrick

There is a goaltender battle in Stadium Village this year.

Senior Eric Schierhorn and junior Mat Robson have almost evenly split games this year, as the net-minders keep consistent play while the defensive core struggles.

“If there’s been one consistent spot for us from the start of the year through all nine games, it’s been our goaltending,” head coach Bob Motzko said. “When I looked on paper, it looked like we had two good goalies. Here we are nine games in, it looks like we have two good goalies.”

Robson started playing for the Gophers halfway through last year, sitting out the first part of the season due to NCAA transfer eligibility rules. He immediately had an impact and took time from Schierhorn, who had started all of the 75 total games of the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons — his freshman and sophomore years at Minnesota.

Schierhorn earned his 12th career shutout on Saturday in what he called, “probably the easiest shutout that I’ve had in college hockey.” St. Lawrence mustered 12 total shots in the game to put Schierhorn in Gophers’ history as the goaltender with the second most shutouts in his career.

The junior goaltender wasn’t so lucky.

“I think it was a bit of a wake up call for us, and obviously we can’t be letting that happen. It seems to happen a little too often right now,” Robson said about Friday’s game.

Robson started Friday’s game and was left out by the defense multiple times to make difficult saves. The Gophers gave up 39 shots on Friday — Robson’s fifth game of the season — and lost 4-3 in overtime on the first shot of the extra frame.

“It was … a tale of two different games this weekend,” Robson said. “It was good to see our team respond the way they did on Saturday.”

Robson described the relationship between Robson and Schierhorn as a good friendship unless the two are in between whistles. “But then obviously when it’s time to get serious, we’re able to get serious. And we both wish success for one another, and it’s good to see him move into second place shutouts all time for Gopher hockey,” Robson said.

Robson described the differences between the two. “He plays an aggressive athletic game for sure, a little bit more high tempo. I try to just slow things down and try and just be really calm in the crease,” Robson said.

The Gophers took no penalties for a full period since over a month ago in the second game against University of Minnesota Duluth on Oct. 7. Motzko has harped on the penalties being a major issue for the team as things have broken down in the last seven games. 

“But discipline continues to move in a better direction, but … it’d really be nice to have a game where we’re just solid, from start to finish,” Motzko said.

There is one other goaltender on the team — senior Brock Kautz. He played one game for the Gophers when he was a freshman and allowed two goals.

Minnesota has a 3-5-1 record going into this week’s matchup against Michigan State (4-6). It is the second weekend of Big ten play after the Gophers split a two-game series with Wisconsin on Nov. 9 and Nov. 10

But last, year some of Schierhorn’s time was taken by junior goaltender Mat Robson, which has now given way to even more time. The two are currently splitting time, as Robson has five games played to Schierhorn’s five.