For the second night in a row, the Gophers used a three-goal second period to defeat downtrodden Michigan Tech 5-2 on Saturday at Mariucci Arena.
Freshmen defenseman Mark Alt and two veteran second-line wingers, Jacob Cepis and Jake Hansen, scored the three unanswered goals to break a 1-1 tie.
The victory was significant in a number of ways for the surging Gophers (15-12-5, 12-10-4):
• It extended their unbeaten streak to five games (4-0-1).
• It was their seven consecutive victory over the Huskies.
• It meant the Gophers finished regular-season play at home with a winning record (9-8-3). For a while, that annual expectation looked to be in serious doubt.
"We are playing some good hockey right now," said Cepis, who also scored the Gophers' third goal in their 5-2 victory over Tech on Friday.
Cepis has a goal in each of the past five games.
"Our team is really starting to bond," he said. "We are a team. All facets. Four lines. All the 'D'. It is really starting to click."
Alt's goal, on a rush two minutes into the second period, gave the Gophers a 2-1 lead.
Cepis made it a two-goal cushion at 6:28. Erik Haula, his freshman center, took the first shot, and the puck was loose in the crease. "There was a big scrum in front and I just dove in there and knocked it in," said Cepis, a senior with 12 goals.
"I guess they are coming now in bunches," he said. "That's just the way it goes. I was on one of those [dry] spells where I didn't score. And now I just feel [the pucks] just come to my stick and I am putting them in.
"Every line is good, but our line is really clicking. We've been hot and we have a little swagger to us."
Steamy hot. Cepis' line had four goals and four assists on Saturday.
Haula had the Gophers' first goal, on a power play early in the opening period, plus two assists. Cepis, a senior from Parma, Ohio, had one goal and one assist. And Hansen, a junior, had two power-play goals and one assist.
Hansen's first goal made the score 4-1. His second came in the last minute of the game.
But there was more than scoring in this game. The Gophers and Michigan Tech (4-26-4, 2-22-2) combined for 30 penalties totaling 101 minutes. Many of those minutes came from a brawl late in the second period, after which Jake Parenteau of the Gophers and Bennett Royer of Tech received game disqualifications.
The Gophers' first home WCHA sweep enabled them to move up to fifth place with two conference games left; the top six teams get home ice for the first round of the WCHA playoffs.
"We had to have four points [two wins] this weekend," coach Don Lucia said. "You can't rely on anybody else to help you out."