They’ve adopted the name “fab five.”
Nate Condon, Tom Serratore, Jake Parenteau, Justin Holl and Michael Shibrowski are the Gophers’ fabulous seniors that have helped the program find its way back to success over the past four years.
The leadership was on display once more at Mariucci Arena on Saturday night as Serratore played hero in a 2-1 victory over Penn State.
Serratore scored just his third goal of the season on a 360-degree move that sent the game-winning goal into the top of the net at 13 minutes, 15 seconds of the third period. Mariucci Arena hadn’t been louder this season after the senior saved the night.
Shibrowski handled the rest in the net for the Gophers (23-4-5 overall, 12-2-0 Big Ten). The backup goaltender had 26 saves and picked up his second victory in his second start of the season.
Junior forward Travis Boyd had a goal and assist for back-to-back two-point efforts.
“Great goal by Tommy — can’t script it any better than that,” Shibrowski said. “Senior Night for one of the hardest-working guys. That was kind of cool, then our guys were great in front of me.”
Shibrowski, Serratore and the rest of the senior class are what coach Don Lucia calls “program guys” and the “heart-and-soul type of player.” The seniors helped lead the Gophers to a 16-1-3 record at Mariucci Arena this season. Four years ago, the then-freshmen and 2010-2011 Gophers won only 16 games all season.
Lucia honored his seniors by starting all five and the group skated together for just over a minute.
There was nothing typical about the week leading up to their final home series, though. The seniors started using the hashtag “fabfive” in their Twitter blasts and reflected on the best memories over the last four years.
Among their favorites were the 2012 Frozen Four appearance and now Saturday night’s victory that only five of the original 11 in the Class of 2014 were a part of.
“We had a mentality of all the seniors wanting to go out on a big note. I would have taken an easier win, but it was great having Shibrowski and Tommy having great games like that,” said co-captain Condon. “It’s something we can always look back on and be proud of.”
Penn State changed its approach a night after the Gophers had their way with the Nittany Lions, according to coach Guy Gadowsky.
They kept an extra man back on defense and settled for fewer quality scoring chances. The adjustment paid off. Penn State created a turnover late in the second period, and Curtis Loik broke away for the game-tying goal.
PJ Musico had 35 saves for the Nittany Lions (6-22-2 overall, 2-13-1-0 Big Ten), but the Gophers seniors came through.
Shibrowski said the experience of celebrating a sweep on Senior Night sent a tingle down his spine. Condon said it was weird saying goodbye to a place he has skated at the past four seasons. After the pregame ceremony honoring the seniors, Condon’s dad followed him back into the tunnel handing out high-fives the way he’s watched his son do.
Holl and Parenteau contributed eight shots on goal and helped Shibrowski keep the Nittany Lions stuck on one goal.
“Last run here on the big pond, so I couldn’t ask for a better moment to end my career here at Mariucci,” Serratore said about his game-winner.