The Gophers’ 6-1 rout of Boston College on Sunday afternoon at Mariucci Arena is the first statement that this team’s build is more than just rankings and hype.
Six different Gophers scored goals for the second time this season and the defense battled through injuries to keep No. 5 Boston College on its heels and frustrated. Forwards Nate Condon and Seth Ambroz led the Gophers with a goal and assist apiece.
The Gophers (5-0-1) built a four-goal lead in the first period and likely did enough to hold on to the No. 1 spot on the polls. Sam Warning and Justin Kloos each contributed two assists.
An identity is becoming apparent from the involvement of so many different Gophers each night. Thirteen had at least one point in the two-game series finale. Part of it is swagger, Ambroz said.
“Right now we’re playing with a little bit of swagger, which is good. And we’ve got a lot of confidence with the freshmen and throughout the lineup,” Ambroz said. “It’s really nice getting everyone contributing. Especially those on [defense].”
The Gophers defense — a big question heading into Sunday’s series finale — ended up being the answer by scoring four of their six goals. Defensemen Brady Skjei, Mike Reilly, Michael Brodzinski and Jake Bischoff scored.
The effort came without senior Jake Parenteau, who suffered an upper-body injury in the first period of Friday’s game. Bischoff, Parenteau’s replacement, was questionable, but scored his first career goal.
Involving a fourth man around the net has been a big part of Gophers practices, and the work made a big difference Sunday. Reilly cut across the front of the goal for an open look and 3-0 lead. Skjei’s presence near the crease put him in position for a rebound on the Gophers’ fourth goal. Brodzinski kept pace with Condon and Kloos on a breakaway and benefited from Condon’s awareness for goal No. 5. And Bischoff’s rush to the net for a loose puck resulted in the game’s final goal.
“In practice we’re working on jumping in the play and kind of being the fourth guy like that,” Reilly said. “We pride ourselves on that and obviously want to work away from the [defensive] zone all the way to the [offensive] zone.”
With Gophers goaltender Adam Wilcox sharp, the Eagles (2-2-1) found an early 4-0 deficit too large to overcome.
Wilcox had 31 saves, and his first 10 might have been the most important. Boston College coach Jerry York said he felt like his team had chances to stay in the game, but Wilcox was too good early on.
Evan Richardson scored the Eagles’ goal.
Boston College changed goalies from Friday’s series opener and started Brian Billett, who finished with 26 saves. The Gophers only had 10 shots on goal in the first, but scored on four of their first seven attempts.
Gophers coach Don Lucia said he felt confident after the aggressive start. It wasn’t until the fifth goal, though, he considered the victory to be safe.
Lucia continued to play down the Gophers’ No. 1 ranking despite the impressive weekend. York couldn’t ignore his opponent’s ability, though.
The Eagles have played four top 15 teams in the first three weeks, including Michigan and Wisconsin, and York has a clear favorite.
“We’ve played some good teams, but I think this is the best team,” York said. “It’s a pretty good club they have.”