Don Lucia saw through his team’s one-sided victory on Friday. The Gophers men’s hockey coach said that the group showed flaws and that a better effort would be required Sunday to complete a third sweep against in-state rivals.
The flaws, however, were even more evident in Sunday’s 6-2 loss to Minnesota Duluth before an announced 9,130 at Mariucci Arena.
The No. 1-ranked Gophers gave up a shorthanded goal in the first period and the problems never stopped. UMD scored three goals in six-plus minutes for an early 3-0 lead that was padded by three more power-play goals.
“You can’t give up four goals on the penalty kill and give up a shorthanded goal, and give ourselves a chance to win,” Lucia said. “We didn’t play with great structure [Sunday]. I don’t think we were real disciplined in our play.”
No. 19 UMD, on the other hand, played with discipline and structure. Coach Scott Sandelin said his team responded well in turning the tables on the Gophers (9-2-1).
Five Bulldogs had multiple-point games. St. Thomas Academy product Justin Crandall scored a game-high four points (two goals, two assists). Linemate Kyle Osterberg, from Lakeville, had a goal and an assist, and Caleb Herbert of Bloomington, another linemate, had three assists.
Matt McNeely made 36 saves for UMD (6-5-1), while Gophers goaltender Adam Wilcox was pulled after the Bulldogs’ fifth goal in the 36th minute.
Mike Reilly and Michael Brodzinski scored the Gophers’ goals on power plays. The Gophers were 2-for-10 on power-play chances and 3-for-7 on penalty kills.
Junior forward Travis Boyd said the Gophers weren’t mentally prepared for what turned into a special teams-focused game with a combined 23 penalties for 68 minutes. An extended scuffle between the Gophers’ Ben Marshall and UMD’s Andy Welinski’s resulted in two game misconducts.
Boyd said the penalties and regular stoppages made it tough for the Gophers to build any rhythm or offense.
“I just don’t think we had any offensive time. The whole game we just weren’t clicking. No one out there was really dialed in, ready to go,” Boyd said. “I think we were shooting ourselves in the foot.”
The biggest self-inflicted wound led to the Bulldogs’ shorthanded goal 7:47 into the game. The Gophers were on a 5-on-3 power-play advantage and producing good chances around the net. Nothing came of the two-man advantage, and Joe Basaraba didn’t allow the Gophers to complete the power play.
Basaraba rushed out of the penalty box, created a turnover, and found Dominic Toninato for the shorthanded breakaway goal.
Sandelin said he thought McNeely’s saves during that penalty kill set the tone for the night. UMD started McNeely at goaltender after Aaron Crandall gave up five goals on Friday.
“I know a lot of [the Gophers] and they know a lot of guys on our team, so it makes for a good rivalry. … To have a big win like that is a pretty cool moment for us,” Justin Crandall said. “It was nice Friday to get home and sleep in our own beds, and kind of regroup up in Duluth on Saturday and figure some things out.”
It appeared they figured out Wilcox, who went from a career-best effort to a career-worst. His 36 saves in the series opener were followed by only 12 saves and five goals allowed. It’s the first time in his career he has given up five goals in a game.