Minnesota sweeps Michigan

The Gophers beat the Wolverines 5-3 on Friday and 4-1 on Saturday at Mariucci Arena.

Minnesota forward Nate Condon controls the puck against Michigan at Mariucci on Friday. Gophers swept Michigan, winning 5-3 Friday and 4-1 Saturday.

Chelsea Gortmaker

Minnesota forward Nate Condon controls the puck against Michigan at Mariucci on Friday. Gophers swept Michigan, winning 5-3 Friday and 4-1 Saturday.

Megan Ryan

The Gophers men’s hockey team wasn’t scoring many goals — a pattern that culminated with a sweep last weekend at Wisconsin.

Minnesota rebounded in a big way this weekend at Mariucci Arena, scoring nine goals in a sweep of No. 10 Michigan.

“Coach really emphasized that if we’re going to win, we’re going to have to score more than two goals a game on most nights,” freshman forward Justin Kloos said.

No. 2 Minnesota capitalized on that advice, beating the Wolverines 5-3 on Friday and 4-1 on Saturday while finding goals up and down the lineup.

That production even came from the fourth-line forwards — freshmen Gabe Guertler and Vinni Lettieri and redshirt freshman Connor Reilly. That line scored two goals over the weekend and assisted on another.

“I thought Guertler’s line played extremely well this weekend,” head coach Don Lucia said. “They gave us some good quality minutes … and I think that’s a big reason why we won a couple games.”

The turnaround didn’t come without some tough love, though.

Guertler and Lettieri came off highly productive seasons playing junior hockey, and Reilly was productive before his injury last season.

The coaching staff has been rotating players in and out of the fourth line, but the line hasn’t produced consistently since playing Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in early January.

Lucia said he felt he could get more out of that line, so he pulled Guertler, Lettieri and Reilly into his office Wednesday along with Ryan Reilly, A.J. Michaelson and Christian Isackson.

“[He] really challenged us,” Connor Reilly said. “We’d only had maybe a goal and four assists in 12 games. So I took it a little personal [and] said, ‘I’ve got to step up and do something.’ … or I was coming out of the lineup.”

While Lucia may have been waiting for just one player to make the change, three did over the weekend.

“We always expect a goal or two out of our top two lines,” Condon said. “And any time our fourth line can pitch in and get a couple goals here and there, it’s just going to help our team even more.”

Kloos scored first Friday about five minutes into the first period before freshman forward Hudson Fasching added to the lead about a minute into the second period.

Andrew Copp put Michigan in the game nine minutes later on the power play, but freshman forward Taylor Cammarata scored just six seconds later to increase the lead.

Seth Ambroz scored a power-play goal with less than three minutes left in the second, but JT Compher cut into the deficit for the Wolverines a minute later.

Zach Hyman scored one more for Michigan early in the third before Guertler closed out the scoring with his first collegiate goal.

Michigan took the lead first Saturday with a goal from Andrew Sinelli, but the Gophers took over from there.

Sam Warning leveled the score at the end of the first period before Reilly and Condon netted goals in the second and Fasching solidified the win with a power-play goal in the third.

It was a fairly physical weekend series with plenty of sticks flying and breaking. Michigan’s Michael Downing left both games early with game misconduct majors.

While the Gophers will have a have a break from competition this week to rest and recharge, Lucia said the team is entering it on a good note.

“I‘m just happy we rebounded,” he said.