Gophers start season with victory over No. 1 UMD

Minnesota was out-shot 46-22, but took a 7-4 victory.

Senior forward Tyler Sheehy scores a goal during the game against the University of Minnesota Duluth on Sunday, Oct. 7.

Ellen Schmidt

Senior forward Tyler Sheehy scores a goal during the game against the University of Minnesota Duluth on Sunday, Oct. 7.

Jack Warrick

Minnesota took a 7-4 victory over the reigning national champions Minnesota Duluth in the two-game series finale on Sunday.

After the first game in Duluth ended in a tie, Minnesota shot well and scored three goals in the first period on Sunday to help lead the team over No. 1 Minnesota Duluth, taking the victory in the team’s first weekend series of the season. It was the first home game for the new head coach Bob Motzko.

“There was some juice in the building, and I got excited,” Motzko said. “And that fed over to our players, and obviously to score goals like that against a team that … they don’t give up many goals. So it’s a great feel-good weekend for us. We have a long way to go.”

Minnesota forward Brannon McManus scored his first two goals of the season in the opening frame on Sunday night. McManus scored the first goal, finding his own rebound on the side of the net and burying it, and later deflected a Ryan Zuhlsdorf one-timer slap shot. 

Tyler Sheehy added on to McManus’ two goals with 3:26 left in the first period to give the Gophers a 3-0 lead heading into the first break. Sheehy’s goal was on a power play due to a checking from behind penalty from Duluth forward Peter Krieger.

“Obviously it feels good, and it kind of created momentum,” McManus said. “We played good as a team, we got pucks deep and played down low. So I think, yeah, that kind of started it.”

The first period would set the tone for a 7-3 Gophers victory, though they were out-shot 46-22. 

In the second period, the Gophers had two goals on three shots. The first was freshman Sammy Walker’s first goal, which came after he deflected defenseman Clayton Phillips’ wrist shot from high in the zone.

The second was a short-handed breakaway goal from junior Rem Pitlick. He hoisted the puck above Duluth goalie Hunter Shepard’s glove on the right side to score his first of the season.

Garrett Wait scored his first college goal with 16:52 on the clock in the third period after a feed from forward Darian Romanko. Duluth changed goalies after the Wait goal, when the Gophers had six goals on 17 shots.  

Freshman forward Sampo Ranta finished off scoring with a top-shelf snipe that was in the net before the second goalie Nick Deery knew Ranta shot. The goal gave the Gophers a 7-3 lead with 8:15 to play in the game. Ranta scored the only goal in the 1-1 tie in the first game Saturday in Duluth.

“Our guys have seen that in practice, and they want teammates that can change games, and [Ranta] can do it,” Motzko said. 

Minnesota goalie Mat Robson saved 42 of 46 shots on goal.

“They peppered Robson, he stood on his (head). Hats off to everybody. We had some good blocked shots there on the PK,” forward Jack Ramsey said. “When we take as many penalties as we do, you’re going to need your goalie to stand on your head.”

The Gophers had 15 total penalties in their first two games. Defenseman Sam Rossini was kicked out of Sunday’s game after a checking from behind penalty in the second period.

“We were killing penalties the whole night,” Motzko said. “You just can’t do that, that many penalties … that will be a point of emphasis.”

The Gophers will continue their season when they play the USA Under-18 team on Saturday in an exhibition game.