Shibrowski fills in, helps Gophers sweep Mavericks

Michael Shibrowski started in net and recorded his first career shutout.

Minnesota goaltender Michael Shibrowski stands in the crease against Minnesota State-Mankato on Saturday. The Gophers swept the Mavericks with the 3-0 win.

Chelsea Gortmaker

Minnesota goaltender Michael Shibrowski stands in the crease against Minnesota State-Mankato on Saturday. The Gophers swept the Mavericks with the 3-0 win.

Megan Ryan

Sophomore goaltender Adam Wilcox led the Gophers to an impressive 4-1 win Friday night with 34 saves against Minnesota State-Mankato.

Still, Wilcox didn’t take his usual place in net in Saturday’s 3-0 win to complete the series sweep.

He wasn’t playing poorly and wasn’t injured. Gophers head coach Don Lucia just wanted to give senior goaltender Michael Shibrowski a belated birthday gift after he turned 23 a day earlier.

“It was one of the better presents I got this year,” Shibrowski said after stopping 25 shots and recording his first career shutout.

That was an impressive feat considering Saturday night was just his seventh collegiate game and fourth start.

And if the stats weren’t enough, Shibrowski also earned the Heart of the Game and First Star awards for his performance.

“It’s nice to see good things happen to good people,” Lucia said. “And Shibby’s as good as they get.”

Lucia said the coaching staff decided earlier in the week to split the goaltenders in this series, but Shibrowski said he only learned of his start Saturday morning.

Lucia said the team captains had been calling for some ice time for the backup goaltender —one of the most well-liked players on the team.

Shibrowski stays after practice to keep improving even though he doesn’t play much, Lucia said. That hard work paid off in the form of confidence Saturday night — he wasn’t afraid to leave the net to feed pucks to his defense.

“Shibs is such a great guy,” freshman defender Jake Bischoff said. “He shows up every day with a smile on his face and just really cheers us all on.”

Bischoff tallied the Gophers’ first goal Saturday night about six minutes into the game. After a scoreless second period, senior forward Tom Serratore added some insurance at the 11-minute mark in the final period. Freshman forward Hudson Fasching sealed the deal about three minutes later with a goal that pushed the lead to 3-0.

“We definitely wanted to play better for [Shibrowski] and just try to get him the best game that he can have,” Bischoff said.

Shibrowski didn’t overlook his teammates’ efforts. He said their help made the night for him.

“It’s definitely something special,” Shibrowski said. “I can’t tell you how many guys were stepping up, blocking shots or doing everything they can to help me. That probably means the most to me.”

Reillys reconnect

With Wilcox between the pipes Friday night, Minnesota jumped out to an early lead and coasted to a 4-1 win.

The Gophers built a 2-0 lead in the first period with goals from freshman forward Justin Kloos and sophomore defenseman Mike Reilly. Reilly made the scoring sheet again when he assisted on a goal from his brother, redshirt freshman forward Connor Reilly.

Lucia said he thought this was the first time since 2004 that two brothers have scored in the same game.

“I’m pretty sure my parents are pretty excited about it,” Connor Reilly said.

Connor Reilly scored on the power play — the team’s sixth conversion with the man advantage this season.

Reilly moved to the power-play unit last Wednesday and said he tried to make the most of the opportunity, even though he wasn’t pleased with his practice the day before the game.

Mike Reilly said he saw the power play begin to click in the series with the Mavericks. Wilcox said he hopes it can become the team’s “bread and butter” again.

The Mavericks notched a consolation goal from junior defenseman Zach Palmquist about halfway through the final period, but Minnesota junior forward Seth Ambroz housed an empty-net goal to solidify the win.

The No. 1 Gophers are 8-1-1 this season.