Gophers win Dodge Holiday Classic

Mark Remme

It was a team with a different complexion, but it yielded the same results.

Minnesota’s men’s hockey team, missing five teammates participating in the World Junior Championships in Sweden, used three lines in its 5-2 win over Ferris State on Saturday.

It made little difference, as the top-ranked Gophers won the Dodge Holiday Classic for the 11th time in 16 years of existence and extended their nation-best unbeaten streak to 20 games in front of 10,076 people at Mariucci Arena.

“I know (the Gophers) were short-handed,” Bulldogs coach Bob Daniels said. “They basically rolled three lines all game and we were able to roll four until halfway through the third period.”

Minnesota (17-1-3 overall, 9-0-3 WCHA) used two power-play goals and a true-to-form balance of offensive production from its forwards and defense to secure the victory over Ferris State.

Gophers junior defenseman Alex Goligoski led the charge for Minnesota, tallying a power-play goal and an assist.

“It’s fun to be on the ice with (Goligoski),” sophomore forward Blake Wheeler said. “Having a guy who can move the puck like that and see the ice that well – it’s fun as a forward because if he sees a hole you know he’s going to hit you.”

But the offensive production came despite Ferris State limiting Minnesota’s shots all night.

The Bulldogs (4-12-2, 2-9-2) outshot the Gophers 35-20, just one night after Minnesota blitzed Alabama-Huntsville for 48 shots in a 3-1 victory in its semifinal of the holiday classic.

“If you look at our average shots on goal for the year and the shots we give up I think we give up about the fewest in our league and we generate the most,” Daniels said. “Our issue is we have a hard time scoring.”

Gophers senior goalie Kellen Briggs stood tall between the pipes in both game during the weekend and extended his unbeaten record to 9-0-2.

He steered away 33 of 35 shots on goal during the game, including a second period breakaway and several point-blank attempts from the slot.

Coach Don Lucia said Briggs’ solid play was just what the doctor ordered.

“Going into the game, being that short-handed, I felt like Kellen had to play well, and he did,” Lucia said. “I think he understood when he looked around the locker room that he had to stand tall.”

Minnesota resumes Western Collegiate Hockey Association play next weekend with a home-and-home series against Minnesota State-Mankato. The games are scheduled for Friday in Mankato and Sunday at Mariucci, both at 7:07 p.m.

Hirsch dismissed

Senior forward Tyler Hirsch was officially dismissed from Minnesota’s men’s hockey roster Saturday.

After taking a medical redshirt last season and missing stints with the squad this year, the Gophers and Hirsch part ways after sharing a rollercoaster relationship.

“Tyler Hirsch’s hockey career at the University of Minnesota has come to an end,” Lucia said in a press release. “We wish Tyler success in his future endeavors.”

Hirsch’s stint in maroon and gold came with good and bad. While participating on the ice, Hirsch consistently contributed with his pass-first style and unselfish play. He was constantly praised by teammates for his ability to create opportunities on the power play.

But with the good came the bad, and Lucia consistently sat Hirsch this season due to poor practice habits, personal conduct and academic troubles.

On the year, Hirsch accumulated four goals and 18 assists, a team high at the time of his departure, in just 14 games.

He finished his career playing 144 games, scoring 31 goals and recording 86 assists.