With a total team effort, Minnesota defeated Mercyhurst 6-0 Friday night as six different players scored and Adam Wilcox stopped 25 shots as the Gophers advance to the championship game of the Ice Breaker Tournament at Mariucci Arena.
For Gophers’ coach Don Lucia, getting the win was gratifying.
“We did a lot of good things tonight,” said Lucia. “We were able to get the first goal. Our 10-minute game was good tonight. Adam looked sharp in net. I thought our ‘D’ did a good job getting the puck up the rink and out of our own end. Our specialty team was good. I thought we had contributions throughout the lineup. A couple freshman scored.”
“I give all the credit to Minnesota,” Mercyhurst coach Rick Gotkin said. “I thought they played very, very well and that was a great test for us. We know we would have our hands full. Minnesota did not disappoint me [and] they played very well.”
The back-breaking goal came on a weird bounce. At 3:37 of the second period, Seth Ambroz made it 2-0 for Minnesota on a bizarre unassisted goal. Ambroz picked up a loose puck in the offensive zone and fired a wrist shot that hit the far left corner of the goal and went high in the air over Lakers’ goaltender Jordan Tibbett just to the side of the right side of the net where Ambroz caught it on the goal line and fed the puck to his stick. He then just threw it back in front of the net, hitting a Lakers’ defenseman’s skate for a bank shot into the back of the net.
“I thought the real turning goal was the Ambrosz goal,” Lucia said. “It hit the pipe and then he through it out front and hit the guy’s skate and goes in. So that gives you that two-goal cushion.”
Sam Warning made it 3-0 at 11:52 on a goal that originally was waved off on the ice. Warning took a pass from Kyle Rau and went around a defender to throw a low-angle shot on net that was immediately steered aside by a Laker defenseman just as it crossed the line. It was a quick review to reverse the on-ice call.
Justin Kloos scored his first goal as a Gopher at 15:20 while on the power play. Camped out on the weak side of the net where he received a pass form Nate Condon, Kloos stopped the puck and lifted a shot over Tibbett as he came across the crease.
A pair of defenseman, Mike Reilly and Michael Brodzinski, finished off the scoring for Minnesota in the third.
Rau opened the scoring at 6:25 of the first period, cleaning up a rebound off a one-time shot by Ben Marshall from the top of the diamond. Travis Boyd fed Marshall for the second assist.
“We would have had to play absolutely perfect hockey and would have had to some great bounces to be successful tonight – neither of which really happened,” Gotkin said.
“We get to play who we wanted to play in UNH tomorrow,” Lucia said. “It’s going to be a great test for us. They are great program. They were in the NCAA quarterfinals a year ago. They will expose us a little more tomorrow, which is good for us this early in the year.”
Mercyhurst will play Clarkson in Saturday’s consolation game at 4 p.m. CST.