After holiday respite, Gophers rediscover scoring touch

Gophers struggle early but beat Yale 7-3

Adam Fink

It took only 18 minutes for Minnesota’s men’s hockey team to shake of the rust from the two-week layoff and rediscover the scoring touch.

It took even less time for the Gophers to make Friday’s 7-3 win against Yale as one of their most complete contests of the season.

“Everyone is coming back refreshed with a clean slate,” said Jerrid Reinholz, who opened up scoring in the first period with his first goal as a Gopher. “It is the time of the year to start to build our identity.”

After struggling with sloppy passes, missed opportunities and a lackluster effort, the 7th-ranked Gophers scored two goals in the final two minutes of the first period.

Thomas Vanek’s power-play goal with 17 seconds left capped a three goal first period. It also lifted Minnesota to a convincing win over the Bulldogs in the first round of the Holiday Classic at Mariucci Arena.

The Gophers face sixth-ranked Boston College on Saturday night for the tournament championship. Earlier Friday, the Eagles defeated Bowling Green 6-5.

“It was a good hockey game with good tempo,” Minnesota coach Don Lucia said. “It’s nice to see the balance scoring. We played consistent.”

Scoring came in a variety of forms and from six different Gophers players. In addition, six out of the seven Minnesota pairings had one player record a goal.

In one of the flukiest goals of the season, Paul Martin scored early in the second period when his shot from the center line hit the side boards and ricocheted into the unsuspecting net of Bulldogs goaltender Peter Cohen.

“That broke them,” the junior defenseman said. “It was lucky but we will take it.”

And then there was Andy Sertich emerging from a pile of Gophers and Bulldogs to slap a shot in the net for his second career score.

But Minnesota’s most impressive score of the night came off of a defensive stand.

Competing with a 4-on-3 dis-advantage in the second period, the Gophers did not allow a quality shot by the Bulldogs for the entire 1 minute and 37 seconds.

Minnesota’s superior strength and speed prevented Yale from taking aim at the zero on the scoreboard and at Gophers goalie Travis Weber.

As a double penalty expired, Minnesota went on the attack ñ still short one man ñ and Keith Ballard’s rebound goal from a Martin shot sent the 10,052 faithful Gopher fans at Mariuici Arena in Minneapolis into a frenzy.

While many of the Gophers were encased in ice after their first action in awhile, Minnesota has little time to rest as a game with Boston College looms.

“We were a little fatigued and tired out there,” Martin said. “But this hopefully prepares us for Boston College.”

A quick start wouldn’t hurt either.

Briggs, Peltier Make Commitments

kellen Briggs of Sioux Falls and Cedar Rapids’ Derek Peltier have given verbal commitments to compete for Minnesota.

Briggs, a goaltender, will join the Gophers for next season. Peltier will either join for the 2003 or 2004 season.

NCAA rules prohibit Lucia from commenting on recruits until they have signed national letters of intent.

Adam Fink covers men’s hockey and welcomes comments at [email protected]