Gophers split weekend series with UMD

Minnesota won 6-1 on Friday night and then lost 6-2 on Sunday afternoon.

Minnesota goalie Adam Wilcox grabs the puck during a game against Minnesota State-Mankato on Friday, Nov. 2, 2012, at Mariucci Arena.

Ichigo Takikawa, Daily File Photo

Minnesota goalie Adam Wilcox grabs the puck during a game against Minnesota State-Mankato on Friday, Nov. 2, 2012, at Mariucci Arena.

Megan Ryan

Sophomore goaltender Adam Wilcox had a career-high 36 saves in Friday’s 6-1 win over Minnesota-Duluth at Mariucci Arena.

A couple of days later, it was Bulldogs sophomore goaltender Matt McNeely with 36 saves, and the Gophers lost 6-2.

“It was almost a little bit of mirror images in the games,” UMD head coach Scott Sandelin said.

Wilcox made only 12 saves Sunday, allowing five goals before Gophers head coach Don Lucia pulled him in the second period in favor of senior backup Michael Shibrowski.

While Wilcox’s performance wasn’t impressive, Lucia said the defense was just as much to blame for the loss.

“He was hung out to dry a little bit,” Lucia said.

And even more problematic for the team than a struggling defense and lackluster offense was the special teams play.

The Bulldogs collected 13 penalties while the Gophers had 10, but UMD was 4-for-7 on the power play while Minnesota was 2-for-10.

Lucia said special teams play was a huge factor in the loss Sunday.

“You can’t give up four goals on the penalty kill and give up a shorthanded goal,” Lucia said.

The Bulldogs’ first goal led a three-goal-in-three-minutes flurry in the first period. Dominic Toninato scored a shorthanded goal, Tony Cameranesi added an even-strength goal and Justin Crandell netted a power-play goal. UMD added three more power-play goals before the game ended.

While the Gophers managed to pull back two power-play goals of their own from sophomore defenseman Mike Reilly and freshman defenseman Michael Brodzinski, it was hardly enough to mount a comeback.

Gophers junior forward Travis Boyd said the penalties changed the momentum and strained his team’s mentality.

“It turns into a special [teams] game,” Boyd said. “It’s tough to stay into it because you’re going to have some guys who won’t play for a stretch of five, 10 minutes and some guys who will be out there for almost the whole five, 10 minutes.”

Though the power-play output from the Gophers’ perspective was modest, Lucia said it wasn’t as big of a problem as the penalty kill.

“We were 20 percent on the power-play,” Lucia said. “That’s better than our average.”

The flip side

On Wilcox’s career night Friday, the lone goal he let pass was the first goal of the night and was also the Bulldogs’ last.

“They have good starts. It’s kind of what they’re known for,” Wilcox said Friday. “They got a goal on us right away, kind of a tough bounce. … And after that, I thought we responded well.”

Minnesota took over the first period from there, scoring three goals in three minutes from sophomore forward A.J. Michaelson, senior forward Tom Serratore and freshman forward Justin Kloos.

The Gophers continued their dominance in the second period with another three goals from junior forwards Kyle Rau and Boyd as well as a power-play score from Brodzinski.

A quiet third period was enough to seal the win for a controlling Gophers offense and defense.

The No. 1 Gophers take a 9-2-1 record into two conference weekends before the holiday break.