Freshman Casey Mittelstadt skated through the middle of the ice and into the offensive zone before rifling a shot past the goalie. His fourth goal of the season put the Gophers men's hockey team up 4-0 over Harvard on Friday night at 3M Arena at Mariucci.
The No. 7 Gophers won 4-2, getting scoring from three different lines and four different players.
"It helps," said coach Don Lucia. "That's what you want to have, different guys contribute."
The Gophers improved to 6-1 at home with the nonconference win over No. 13 Harvard. It was the Crimson's first visit to the University of Minnesota campus since their 4-3 overtime win over Minnesota in the Mariucci Classic in 2016.
The Gophers' top line scored first, in a 4-on-4 situation in the first period. Tommy Novak came out front and sent the puck to a waiting Brent Gates Jr., who beat Harvard goalie Merrick Madsen on his stick side.
Then the new second line got on the board: Rem Pitlick, Mittelstadt and Brannon McManus. The past five games, it was Pitlick-Mittelstadt-Scott Reedy.
Pitlick gave the Gophers (8-4-1) a 2-0 lead with 1:43 left in the first period on a feed from Mittelstadt. Pitlick leads the team with six goals and 15 points. He said he's lucky to have players around him making great plays.
"So I think we just have a really skilled group," Pitlick said. "I'm just kind of the beneficiary."
The third goal came from the defensive pairing of Steve Johnson and Tyler Nanne in the second period. Nanne's hard slapshot bounced off the endboards, allowing Johnson to score his second goal of the season.
Then there was Mittelstadt's goal for the 4-0 lead. He credited defenseman Ryan Zuhlsdorf for starting the play.
"Kind of gave me some room to get some ice and take a rush," Mittelstadt said. "And for me, that's usually when I play best."
Lucia was happy to see he shot the puck "instead of trying to stick-handle by one more person."
The Gophers also avoided repeating last weekend's collapse in Michigan, where a 4-0 lead turned into an eventual tie.
Jack Badini of Harvard (2-4) scored 52 seconds into the third period; teammate Ryan Donato made it a 4-2 with 11:10 left.
The Gophers held on, even after killing a penalty in the closing minutes. Goalie Eric Schierhorn made 26 saves, including a sprawling kick-save with a minute left in regulation.
"Eric played well tonight," Lucia said. "It looked like we were in pretty good shape, and then we took some penalties late. But you know, our penalty kill's been good, and we were dialed in."