Ann Arbor, Mich. – Tyler Sheehy admittedly didn't expect to reach 50 points this season.
Consistent as a sophomore, Sheehy became the first Minnesota player Saturday since Erik Haula in 2012-13 to reach the milestone when he assisted on linemate Rem Pitlick's first-period goal in a 4-1 victory over Michigan.
As he has all season, however, Sheehy didn't stop with a single point.
The Burnsville native added two more goals to finish the night with 52.
"It's pretty special. I don't know if I was really expecting to do that this year," he said. "I have to give a lot of credit to my linemates and my teammates. They've been unbelievable. Whenever I get them the puck, they've been putting it into the back of the net as well."
Minnesota, meanwhile, responded from Friday's defeat to make the most of its second chance to start March off on the right foot.The road series split clinched the Gophers a first-round bye in the Big Ten Conference tournament.
Combined with Penn State shutting out Wisconsin 6-0, Minnesota regained sole possession of first place in the Big Ten entering the final weekend. The Gophers have 39 points to the Badgers' 36.
Sophomore goaltender Eric Schierhorn made 27 saves — Michigan's Hayden Lavigne had 33 — at Yost Arena. Minnesota's focus on blocking shots, being more physical and keeping Michigan to the outside was rewarded. The Gophers finished with 28 blocks and went 3-for-3 on the penalty kill.
Schierhorn said the defense made his job easier: "They played really well. They got pucks out the first time. They were finding guys, moving it up to the forwards right away. That's what we need and it showed."
Minnesota took a 1-0 lead on Pitlick's 10th goal in as many games.
After Michigan's Cooper Marody had a tying chance in the closing seconds of the first period overturned because of goalie interference, Sheehy ended a three-game drought during which the Gophers failed to score in the second period by finishing a play started by linemates Justin Kloos and Pitlick.
"They have great chemistry. All three have great hands and they can make plays," coach Don Lucia said about that line. "That's what we need them to do."
Leon Bristedt followed up with his 12th goal of the season. Wolverines junior Tony Calderone ended Schierhorn's shutout bid with less than four minutes remaining in the second period.
Despite being outshot 11-6 in the third period, Minnesota prevented Michigan's attempt to repeat Friday's come-from-behind win.
Sheehy added an empty-net goal for his team-high 20th of the season.
"We weren't happy with the way we played last night. Going into video today we looked at what we did wrong and there was a lot of it," said Sheehy. "Overall [tonight] we were able to contain them."
Next weekend the Gophers host Michigan State to finish the regular season.
"We put ourselves where when we go home we win two games we're in first place," Lucia said. "We're going home to try and win a championship."