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GOPHERS 5, VERMONT 1

Up next: 6 p.m. Saturday at Vermont • TV: FSN (1500-AM)

U hockey shows its skills in 5-1 victory at Vermont

  • Article by: TED RYAN
  • Special to the Star Tribune
  • November 24, 2012 - 8:56 AM

BURLINGTON, VT. - The Gophers men's hockey team played its first game at Vermont's Gutterson Fieldhouse in the 39-year history of the aging Quonset hut Friday night, and it enjoyed the evening.

Fourth-ranked Minnesota shrugged off a physical first period by the Catamounts and determined the game's outcome with a three-goal second period en route to the 5-1 victory.

Five players -- forwards Seth Ambroz, Kyle Rau, Zach Budish and Nick Bjugstad and defenseman Mike Reilly -- provided the goals as the Gophers improved to 8-2-2.

"Walking in, I loved the old building," Gophers coach Don Lucia said after his team extended its unbeaten streak to five (3-0-2). "It reminds me of a lot of the rinks I grew up playing in in northern Minnesota.

"You can see it reeks of tradition, and a lot of good hockey has been played here. It's a nice building, 200-by-90 ice sheet, a nice size, and a good crowd, especially with the students not being here," he said.

"A lot of our guys have never been out here before, and that's one reason why we wanted to schedule this trip."

Another reason was to get a little payback for the split Vermont earned a year ago at Mariucci Arena.

For one period, the Catamounts made it difficult, but the Gophers took the best Vermont (2-6-2) could muster and still emerged with a 2-1 lead, primarily because of a late Vermont mental error that nicely set up Rau for the go-ahead goal.

The Gophers took a 1-0 lead on Ambroz's goal 7 minutes, 52 seconds into the first, a tally that Vermont countered at 15:26 with Brett Bruneteau batting the puck past goalie Adam Wilcox (22 saves).

At 18:39, a Minnesota shot wound up on the outside of the Catamounts net. Vermont defenseman Nick Bruneteau hesitated, then rapped the net. The puck popped up and out front to Rau standing to the left of goalie Brody Hoffman (30 saves). Rau scored his sixth goal of the season.

"The first period, we were playing great," Vermont coach Kevin Sneddon said, "and we make kind of a foolish mistake when the puck was on the back of the net, trying to whack it, get it off the net and it goes right onto their guy's stick right into the back of our net instead of boxing out and protecting Brody."

Once the second period began, the Gophers cranked up their game and reduced Vermont's attack to five shots by playing a puck possession game Vermont couldn't join.

By period's end, Minnesota had pelted Hoffman with 17 shots, including goals by Budish, Bjudstad, who stepped from the penalty box for his breakaway goal, and Reilly.

"Even in the first, when we hit a couple of pipes and had one called back, it's, 'Is it going to be our night?'" Lucia said. "The guys stayed with it, and then we made a lot of nice plays in the second period and scored some goals.

"Their goaltender made some really good saves, but that's where you want to be, with different goal scorers as much as you possibly can. Ambroz started it off with a real nice move coming in."

One of many nice moves.

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