It’s been on repeat throughout the first two months of interviews. This year’s Gophers squad will succeed if everyone gets involved, coach Don Lucia has said. Lucia finally got a complete look at what this effort produces in a 6-1 romp over Minnesota Duluth on Friday night at Mariucci Arena.
All four Gophers forward lines and a defenseman scored goals, confirming the coach’s theory and tying a season high of six goals.
“Six different guys scored a goal. That’s kind of our team, and that’s kind of the way it has to be,” Lucia said.
Kyle Rau scored a goal for the first line. Justin Kloos connected for the second line. Tom Serratore and Travis Boyd each contributed a goal on the third line. A.J. Michaelson scored his first goal of the season on the fourth line. Defenseman Michael Brodzinski scored the team’s sixth goal.
Seth Ambroz and Taylor Cammarata each had two assists. Gophers goaltender Adam Wilcox recorded a career-high 36 saves.
It was the first time this season the Gophers’ four lines scored goals in the same game.
The most impressive line was a new combination of Serratore, Boyd and Ambroz, which combined for six points. Serratore and Boyd each scored a goal and assisted on one. Ambroz had two assists.
The line briefly played together last week, and the players said they immediately felt chemistry. They skated together last season and were confident they could produce if given the chance.
Lucia gave them that chance by bumping wings Serratore and Ambroz to the third line, centered by Boyd. The trio quickly delivered, teaming up on Serratore’s goal in the first period. Serratore’s slap shot rattled off the post and sneaked into the top corner for the go-ahead goal.
“We just try to take care of the little things, and the big things take care of themselves,” Serratore said. “We played with each other a lot last year, so we know where each other will be on the ice, and that showed tonight a little bit.”
Rau’s goal 5:26 into the second period was his first since scoring the Gophers’ first goal of the season. But he had contributed nine assists, the second-most on the team, and added a 10th on Friday.
The Gophers responded to a UMD goaltender change in the second period by scoring a sixth goal just minutes after Matt McNeely took over for Aaron Crandall.
The Gophers scored the only power-play goal and were even better on the penalty kill. They killed nine Bulldog advantages, including a 4-on-3 edge that briefly escalated to a 5-on-3. The teams combined for 16 penalties and had more than one player in the penalty box on multiple occasions.
An ugly start was quickly forgotten after the Gophers scored three goals in three minutes late in the first period. For the first 14 minutes, UMD controlled the tempo of the game and at times made the Gophers look bad. Charlie Sampair gave the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead, and the Bulldogs outshot the Gophers 37-34, but Wilcox’s career night made the game appear one-sided.
“They have good starts. That’s kind of what they’re known for,” Wilcox said. “I don’t think the score showed the type of game it was. … After that, I thought we responded well getting three goals right away in the short time span.”