Minn. snags crucial 3 points

The Gophers’ offense exploded for eight goals over the weekend.

After scoring just ten goals in its last eight games, the Minnesota men’s hockey team tallied eight goals against Wisconsin this weekend to pick up three Western Collegiate Hockey Association points.

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Alaska-Anchorage
what: Men’s hockey
when: 10:37 p.m., Friday
where: Anchorage, Alaska

After holding off a late rush by the Badgers to win 4-2 Friday night, the two teams exchanged goals all night Saturday before ending in a 4-4 overtime tie.

Minnesota (13-13-8 overall, 7-11-6 WCHA) was extremely successful during special teams plays this weekend – going 5-for-10 on the power play against a shaky Badgers penalty kill that ranks No. 9 in the conference.

“We’re just trying to get the puck on net,” sophomore forward Jay Barriball said. “Dirty goals are good goals on the power play. We’re just trying not to get too cute with the puck.”

The luck the Gophers found while on the advantage helped stimulate the team’s sudden offensive surge.

And perhaps even more impressive than what Minnesota did this weekend was who did it.

Freshman forward Patrick White scored a goal each night to almost double his season totals after not collecting a point since the Wayne State series 11 games ago.

Sophomore forward Jay Barriball had a similar weekend – tallying two goals and an assist after scoring just three up to this point.

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

Barriball hadn’t scored a goal since the 4-3 loss to Rochester Institute of Technology on Dec. 29.

“Guys that when you look at our team can’t score on a consistent basis scored for us,” Lucia said. “That’s a positive.”

But goal scorers weren’t the only players for Minnesota that seem to be waking up at the right time.

Both freshman defenseman Cade Fairchild and junior forward Justin Bostrom have been nearly silent since the winter break.

The duo had just one point between them in the second half coming in to this weekend – an assist from Bostrom in the Wayne State series.

But this weekend, the pair each picked up two assists – Bostrom on both of White’s scores and Fairchild on the Gophers final two goals Saturday night.

However, not every Gophers player had an exceptional weekend – freshman netminder Alex Kangas put up his worst personal performance of the season but this time the team covered for him instead of the other way around.

Kangas gave up a pair of soft goals Saturday in a game which tied the goalie’s season high for goals allowed.

“I’m not sure you’re going to make a goaltenders’ highlight reel out of this game (Saturday),” Lucia said. “The good thing is that a month ago if our goalie was a little bit off, we would have had no chance to win because we weren’t scoring any goals.”

Both of Kangas’ four-goal games came in back-to-back series.

Wisconsin (14-13-7, 10-11-5) was held to just a 2-for-13 weekend while on the advantage, one of which coming during a five-on-three chance.

The Badgers did pepper the net with 41 shots, which coach Mike Eaves said was the team’s season high, on Saturday to pick up at least one conference point.

“At this time of year it’s about getting points, and it’s a good point.” Eaves said. “That’s a point that could make a difference for us down the road.”

Streak Stopper

Friday’s win also ended a six-game winless streak for the Gophers, who hadn’t won since a 2-1 win over Minnesota-Duluth just over a month ago.

That series was also the last time Minnesota recorded three conference points in a weekend.