Potulny and Irmen get a little help

Coach Don Lucia wanted scoring to come from elsewhere, and he got his wish.

Ben Goessling

Minnesota men’s hockey coach Don Lucia said last week that his primary concern for the College Hockey Showcase against Michigan and Michigan State was that the Gophers find scorers besides center Ryan Potulny and forward Danny Irmen.

Mission accomplished.

Of the Gophers’ 10 goals in its sweep of the Wolverines and Spartans, three came from defensemen and four were courtesy of the Gophers’ second and third lines.

Thirteen players tallied points, including at least one on every line and every defensive pairing.

And Lucia couldn’t have been happier.

“These were total team wins,” he said. “We really weren’t worried about matchups. Everybody just played.”

Potulny was a one-man show in the first four minutes Friday against the Wolverines, knocking home two rebounds within 28 seconds of each other.

But the center deferred to Minnesota’s supporting cast for the rest of the evening as Jake Fleming, Gino Guyer and Mike Vannelli tallied their first, third and second goals of the season, respectively.

Tyler Hirsch and Derek Peltier each had a pair of assists Friday. Jerrid Reinholz and Kris Chucko also added helpers.

And while Potulny added another goal Saturday, the Gophers’ primary source of offense against the Spartans was their defense.

Chris Harrington scored first with 7:17 left in the first period, deflecting home a sharp crossing pass from Hirsch.

Nate Hagemo set up Minnesota’s second goal with a pass to Chucko in the slot eight minutes later, and Alex Goligoski gave the Gophers a 3-0 lead with a wrist shot from the point on a power play 4:32 into the second period.

“We recruit those types of defensemen for a reason,” Lucia said. “You don’t get as many odd-man rushes as you used to, so that second wave of attack is very important to us.”

For Goligoski, the power-play goal also brought back a little confidence.

The freshman started the year with seven points in October, but he had scored just one this month, and his reluctance to shoot on the power play was becoming a bit of a sticking point with coaches and teammates.

“I’ve been harping on him for a month to shoot that puck,” said Harrington, who teams with Goligoski on the power play. “He’s nervous, but hopefully, that taught him to let that thing go.”

Goligoski said Lucia told him again in the middle of Saturday’s game to shoot more, and the message finally got through.

“I was just trying to throw it on net any way I could,” he said. “We beat two teams (North Dakota and Minnesota State-Mankato) like that.”

The goal was also unique in that it was the Gophers’ only score with a man advantage all weekend.

Minnesota was 1-for-5 on the power play against Michigan State after coming up empty in five tries Friday.

And while Lucia expressed mild concern about the Gophers’ power-play struggles, it was pretty clear Minnesota didn’t need conventional methods to score over the weekend.

“I would have never thought we’d score (five without a power-play goal),” Lucia said Friday. “But we had a great morning skate, and (assistant coach) Bob (Motzko) made the comment that when they’re enthusiastic and talking during that morning skate, that usually translates into a good outing at night.”