Kaufmann returns with a bang in Minnesota’s win

Mark Remme

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Welcome back, Evan Kaufmann.

The junior forward returned from a 10-game absence with a bang, netting two third-period goals in the Minnesota men’s hockey team’s 3-2 win at Colorado College on Friday.

“If someone told me I’d score a couple goals and we’d come out with a win on the first game back, I’d take it,” Kaufmann said with a grin after the game.

The grin, perhaps, came in lieu of how he scored those goals. His first, at 4:27 into the third, deflected off traffic in front of the net and gave the Gophers a 2-1 lead.

Then, with 4:25 remaining in the period, Kaufmann caught a pass behind the defense and shot a puck that bounced off Tigers goalie Matt Zaba’s helmet and shoulder before trickling into the net.

“It was a great contribution by one of our few upperclassmen,” coach Don Lucia said.

Kaufmann’s goals touched up what was otherwise a solid performance by Zaba, who stopped 29 of 32 shots he faced.

His counterpart, Gophers senior netminder Kellen Briggs, picked up another win in his hometown of Colorado Springs, and he said he knows his 15 saves on 17 shots tells a large tale for why Minnesota earned the victory.

Briggs said the team played well defensively, not giving Colorado College (16-12-3 overall, 12-9-2 WCHA) opportunities to shoot on net often.

With the win and St. Cloud State’s 3-1 loss to Wisconsin, Minnesota (24-5-3, 16-4-3) gained two points in the race for the MacNaughton Cup.

The Gophers now sit six points ahead of the Huskies with five games remaining and, if they win and St. Cloud State loses Saturday night, an eight-point lead could all but seal up a second straight regular season title for Minnesota.

And with Friday’s win at Colorado Springs World Arena, a place where the Tigers lost just their third conference game of the season, the Gophers are looking to build off the scrappy victory.

“This is definitely a big boost for the team,” Kaufmann said. “We’re getting some help from some other teams in the league right now, and we’re going to concentrate on taking care of our job.”

GAME SUMMARY

1st 2nd 3rd — T

Gophers 1 0 2 — 3

Tigers 1 0 1 — 2

SCORING

1st: UMN: Barriball-15 (Vannelli-20, Gordon-15); CC: Rau-10 (Connelly-14, Cox-6)

2nd: NO SCORING

3rd: UMN: Kaufmann-5 (O’Brien-5, Peltier-7), Kaufmann-6 (Anderson-5); CC: B. Sweatt-8 (Cox-7)