Gophers men’s hockey sweep Wolverines

Minnesota is tied for first in the Big Ten with Penn State through six games.

Gophers forward Vinni Lettieri chases the puck into the corner against Michigan on Friday, Jan. 13, 2017 at Mariucci Arena.

Carter Jones

Gophers forward Vinni Lettieri chases the puck into the corner against Michigan on Friday, Jan. 13, 2017 at Mariucci Arena.

Drew Cove

Weekends with two victories are becoming business as usual for Minnesota.

No. 9 Minnesota (13-5-2, 5-1 Big Ten) emerged victorious on both Friday and Saturday over Michigan (8-11-1, 1-5 Big Ten).

Friday, the Gophers dominated the Wolverines en route to a 5-2 victory with an opening goal from forward Rem Pitlick.

“We had good energy early,” said head coach Don Lucia. “Rem’s goal was important… The next two goals, a nice deflection goal and I thought the real important goal was the one [with] under two seconds left.”

Forward Mike Szmatula was down in front of the net, and like any forward with his nose to the net, he found a rebound and put it past the Michigan goaltender with less than two seconds left in the first period to put the Gophers up 3-1.

Minnesota’s top goal-scorer, forward Tyler Sheehy, scored two goals and recorded an assist Friday.

“Anytime you’ve got diverse scoring out there it’s great for the team,” Sheehy said. “It’s awesome to see other guys get goals and hopefully they can keep putting the puck in the net.”

The sophomore increased his point total on the season to 28 in just 19 games.

Pitlick was able to get on the scoresheet with two points Friday, and although he had 10 assists coming into the game, he shot the puck instead — and it worked.

The freshman has been urged by coaches to shoot more, and he has proven he can. He led the USHL in scoring last season with 46 goals.

The Gophers managed to keep the puck away from the Wolverines due to their speed and possession advantage.

Minnesota recorded a game-high in shots this season with 45 during Friday’s game, and only allowed 24 shots for Michigan.

Saturday the Gophers had the chance to get the sweep, and they did just that.

Minnesota beat Michigan 4-2 in the series finale Saturday, and forward Vinni Lettieri recorded his first career hat trick.

“It feels good,” Lettieri said. “Along with the other guys in the locker room, we put in a lot of work every day before and after practice, in the summertime, and when you get rewarded for three goals, obviously it feels good.”

The senior recorded his ninth, tenth, and eleventh goals of the season Saturday — the tenth being the game-winning goal.

Defenseman Ryan Collins had the other tally for Minnesota, and a lot of it had to do with the chemistry he and his defensive partner, Ryan Zuhlsdorf, are developing.

“Everything just clicks sometimes,” Collins said. “Zuhlsdorf and I have found some chemistry and we have good communication on the back end and I think that’s crucial for a [defense] pair to have.”

Goaltender Eric Schierhorn was able to back-stop the Gophers to two more consecutive wins this weekend, bringing his and Minnesota’s win streak to six games.