Martin’s heroics bring men’s hockey much-needed sweep

Adam Fink

Trailing by one goal midway through the third period Saturday night, Minnesota’s men’s hockey team needed someone to energize the squad.

Alternate captain Paul Martin was up to the challenge for the Gophers.

Martin jump-started the ninth-ranked Gophers with a power-play goal at 9:09.

A mere 29 seconds later, Martin sidestepped a defender before passing to Dan Welch for the game-winning goal in a 2-1 decision over Michigan Tech.

“We had been so frustrated,” Martin said. “Once I scored, it just seemed to get everyone on the bench fired up and it got us going. We needed that.”

Before the series started, Minnesota players said they needed a sweep. The Gophers had banked only six of a possible 12 standing points and were losing ground.

Along with the 4-2 victory Friday, the Gophers earned four points and moved to within four points of conference-leading Colorado College, who was idle.

The ability to make adjustments was the key to Saturday’s game for Minnesota (7-3-3, 4-2-2 WCHA).

Through two periods, the Gophers found themselves frustrated by the Huskies center-ice collapsing defense.

Although Minnesota held an 18-9 advantage in shots, Michigan Tech (1-7-3, 0-6-2) held a 1-0 lead entering the second intermission.

“(The Huskies) were playing smart and patient,” coach Don Lucia said. “I just told our guys to make the extra pass and change the normal shooting lanes.”

The final outcome left Michigan Tech coach Mike Sertich disappointed.

In addition, Sertich said his players were down on themselves as their quest to earn a conference victory continues after eight games.

“We executed our game plan to the letter,” Sertich said. “We wanted to play good defense and not allow any straight-on shots. I couldn’t ask from anything better from my guys.”

On Friday, Michigan Tech played with more of an offensive mindset – out-shooting the Gophers 34-32 – and the game was not decided until Matt DeMarchi scored an empty net goal in the final moments.

The Gophers were sparked early by Matt Koalska, who played on the second line for the first time this season. Along with Welch’s goal, Koalska’s power-play goal gave Minnesota an early 2-0 lead.

“It’s nice to get a goal,” Koalska said. “We played at their level at times but we can’t do that. We need to play at our level.”

With the score tied at two, Jake Fleming tallied his first goal of the season 3:14 into the third period and it held up as the game-winner.

In an effort to find a clear-cut starting goaltending, Travis Weber made both starts this weekend and will start Friday against Michigan State.

“It felt good to be out there (both nights),” Weber said. “It’s a confidence builder.”

For the series, Weber stopped 47 of 50 shots and made a number of tough saves.

Minnesota hosts the College Hockey Showcase this weekend. The Gophers play the Spartans on Friday and Michigan on Sunday.

Reinholz hurt

sophomore Jerrid Reinholz injured his shoulder early in Saturday’s game and didn’t return. He will be re-evaluated Monday.