Gophers pull away for split with Huskies

  • Article by: ROMAN AUGUSTOVIZ , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 12, 2011 - 1:00 AM

The U players can rest easily on their 20-day break after surging late against Michigan Tech.

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After being upset the night before, the Gophers showed Michigan Tech who was better Saturday.

The nation's No. 2-ranked team scored four third-period goals to defeat the Huskies 6-2 at Mariucci Arena before an announced crowd of 9,771.

Defenseman Mark Alt scored the game-winner at 3 minutes, 30 seconds of the final period, breaking a 2-2 tie. It was his fourth goal of the season and second in two games. He also had two assists.

Nick Bjugstad and Joey Miller scored rebound goals a little more than two minutes apart in the middle of the period to break the game open. And Jake Hansen's second goal, on a late power play, capped the outburst.

Several skirmishes broke out late in the game, and assistant coaches exchanged words. The teams combined for nine roughing penalties, a five-minute high-sticking and three 10-minute misconduct penalties in the last 2:19.

The Gophers (14-5-1, 11-3-0) remained tied with Minnesota Duluth for first place in the WCHA race and remained near perfect on Saturdays (8-0-1).

"Our big players stepped up," Miller said.

The Gophers have a 20-day break before their next game.

"That's what we talked about," Alt said. "You don't want to lose two games and go into a winter break. We made an emphasis that we wanted to win tonight and come out in first place in the WCHA going into the break and that's what we did. It's something you can feel good about for the next couple of weeks."

The Huskies (9-8-1, 6-7-1) won the first game of this series 3-2 in overtime. The Gophers came out fast and furious in the second game after watching some painful video of Friday's upset.

"When you lose in overtime, it stinks," Gophers coach Don Lucia said. "We had a pretty stern [pregame] meeting."

Freshman Kyle Rau gave the Gophers a 1-0 lead at 7:37 of the first period and they were clicking. The shots were 8-0 in the Gophers' favor when penalties on the home team changed the complexion of the game.

Zach Budish got an interference penalty at 8:28 and the Huskies finally got their first and second shots on goal. Not much harm there.

After an awful-looking Gophers power play, Tech got its second power play at 14:46 when Seth Ambroz received a double minor for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Halfway through their four-minute power play, the Huskies tied the score on Jordan Baker's tap-in of a puck in the crease.

So the opening period ended in a 1-1 tie -- as it did Friday.

The Gophers scored the only goal of the second period. Hansen tipped a shot by Erik Haula for his seventh goal of the season midway through.

Then penalty trouble again. Freshman defenseman Blake Thompson, out of the lineup since Oct. 23 because of mononucleosis, ran into David Johnstone along the boards with his elbows up. Thompson was given a five-minute major for contact to the head and a game disqualification.

Early in the third period, with Tech still on the power play, sophomore defenseman Dan Sova of Cottage Grove fired from the left point -- and the Huskies' first shot on the man advantage went in, tying the score at 2-2.

A repeat of Friday, perhaps? Alt and his teammates made sure overtime would not be necessary this night.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

  • GOPHERS 6, MICHIGAN TECH 2

    Up next: Mariucci Classic, Gophers vs. Niagara, 7 p.m. Dec. 30 • Princeton vs. Northeastern, 4 p.m. Dec. 30 • Mariucci Arena

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