Gophers beat Wisconsin 4-2

Brian Deutsch

After going winless in its last six games and being held to one goal in each of its last four, the Minnesota men’s hockey team finally ended both trends tonight ñ pocketing four goals to defeat Wisconsin 4-2 at Mariucci Arena.

Three unanswered goals by Minnesota in the first two periods gave the impression that the game was over before the third period even started.

But as coach Mike Eaves said earlier this week, Wisconsin was a come from behind team ñ keeping the game close and making a show of it at least.

For Minnesota (13-13-7 overall, 7-11-5 Western Collegiate Hockey Association), all four goals came from players not known for scoring this season.

The first three came from senior defenseman Derek Pelter, sophomore forward Mike Carman and freshman forward Patrick White ñ their second, third and fourth goals of the season, respectively.

“I was happy with the way we came out and played in the first period,” coach Don Lucia said. “It was just nice to score more than one.”

After giving up three goals on 26 shots in two periods, Eaves pulled junior goaltender Shane Connelly for freshman Scott Gudmandson.

“It had nothing to do with Shane’s play,” Eaves said after the game. “It was a message to the team that they had to start playing better and helping out their goaltender.”

Gudmandson, who has only made five appearances all season ñ none against the Gophers, played marginally well ñ giving up one goal on twelve shots and allowing Wisconsin to make a short-lived comeback.

“We were spectators for the first two periods,” Eaves said. “You could tell which was the more desperate team.”

Wisconsin sophomore forward Blake Geoffrion broke up freshman net-minder Alex Kangas’ hopes of a first-career shutout early in the third period during a 5-on-3 advantage, but the Gophers were just far enough ahead to withstand the third period pressure.

Sophomore forward Jay Barriball, who suffered from the flu earlier after spraining his ankle two weeks ago in Denver, added a fourth goal for the Gophers midway through the third to give Minnesota a bit of relief.

“It was nice to see Jay score,” Lucia said. “It’s been a long time for him and maybe that will ignite him a little bit.”

But a fluke goal from sophomore forward Aaron Bendickson brought the deficit back to 2 shortly after.

The score occurred when Kangas made the initial save, but a streaking Bendickson hit the puck with his skate ñ sending it flying into the net before the freshman’s glove could cover it.

Kangas ended the night stopping 25 of 27 shots faced for his sixth win of the season.

For the Gophers, the win brings their overall record back to .500, ties a second half high for goals scored and gives them a much better chance of gaining ground in the WCHA standings.

“So many games we’ve been right there and just haven’t been able to win, tonight we did,” Lucia said. “I’m happy for our players because they’ve deserved more than this the past six weeks.”

Friday 1 2 3 Final Minnesota 1 2 1 4 Wisconsin 0 0 2 2 Scoring: First ñ 1. MN, Peltier (Carman, Flynn) 9:49 (ev). Second ñ 2. MN, Carman (Kaufmann, Lucia) 10:53 (pp). 3. MN, White (Bostrom, Lucia) 12:32 (ev). Third ñ 4. WI, Geoffrion (Turris, Davies) 2:02 (pp). 5. MN, Barriball (Wheeler, Hoeffel) 8:16 (pp). 6. WI, Bendickson (Geoffrion) 10:59 (ev). Saves: Minnesota ñ Kangas 5-9-11-25 Wisconsin ñ Connelly 10-13-NA-23 Gudmandson NA-NA-11-11