MANKATO – Twelve games and eight months passed since the last time Taylor Cammarata scored a goal. Vinni Lettieri's goal-scoring drought was nearly as long: nine games and seven-plus months.
The junior forwards' extended droughts ended Friday night and as they helped pad the Gophers' 4-0 victory over Minnesota State Mankato at the Verizon Wireless Center.
Cammarata scored the Gophers' second goal of the night, drifting through the slot from 25 feet out in the second period. Lettieri added to the lead on a rebound opportunity early in the third period.
"Sometimes it's hard to get that first one," Lettieri said. "We work our butts off all summer … so when we don't have points … it doesn't feel good 'cause you want to help the team out.
"It's nice to get that first one for me and Cammy, and hopefully it just keeps going."
Freshman Eric Schierhorn recorded his second shutout, making 31 saves. Junior forward Justin Kloos scored a shorthanded goal in the first period and Gophers leading goal-scorer Leon Bristedt added his fifth of the season late in the third period.
Lucia paired Cammarata and Lettieri on the third line with freshman Brent Gates Jr. three weeks ago against Northeastern, and in their fourth game skating together Friday they accounted for five of the Gophers' 12 points.
At media day in September, Lettieri was the first name Lucia mentioned in a short list of players he expected to play a vital role if the team was to be successful this year. Cammarata ate up a couple of minutes of Lucia's sound bite while the coach explained how important it was for the small but skilled forward to become the goal-scoring threat he was as a freshman.
"I thought Vinni's line was good all night. They were rewarded with a couple goals," Lucia said after his team improved to 4-4. "We need those guys scoring. They're the veterans. We have six freshman forwards in the lineup out of 12. The six that are returning, they have to lead the way."
Cammarata scored 10 goals as a freshman but only three as a sophomore, though he was second on the team with 24 assists. Lettieri scored only two goals as a freshman, nine last season.
"I don't think we were playing bad, it was just more it wasn't falling for us," Cammarata said. "It's nice to get on the board here."
The Mavericks' sellout crowd — announced at 5,156, ninth-largest in school history — never became a factor despite MSU outshooting the Gophers 31-25 and getting five power-play opportunities.
"Our power play had a couple looks and didn't finish," Mavericks coach Mike Hastings said. "We didn't give the crowd an opportunity to get into the game. That's our responsibility."