ANN ARBOR, Mich. – If Gopher hockey fans want to know what their team can and can’t do in order to win games, clip and save this weekend’s series against Michigan for future reference.
One night after the Wolverines handed Minnesota an 8-3 drubbing, the Gophers turned in a nearly flawless performance in a 3-2 win at Michigan Saturday.
“[Friday] night was a pretty embarrassing game for us,” said junior forward Vinni Lettieri, who scored the winning goal in the third period just 12 seconds after Michigan had tied the game at 2-2. “We knew as a team that we were terrible and we just had to bring it. We knew what we had to do.”
Lettieri’s goal came on a shallow-angle shot from the near faceoff circle that squeezed between Michigan goaltender Zach Nagelvoort and the post. It quieted the Yost Arena crowd envisioning a series sweep after forward Kyle Connor evened the score 1:34 into the third period.
“Vinni’s goal was a huge response,” Gopher coach Don Lucia said. “We saw last night how they can create momentum quickly. That goal took away any momentum they had.”
Freshman goalie Eric Schierhorn was instrumental in keeping the Wolverines from building momentum. One night after he was pulled after allowing five goals on 10 shots, he made 33 saves, one short of his season high.
“Give Eric a lot of credit,” Lucia said. “He came back and played like he’s played most of the season, and we have to have that.”
Schierhorn was especially sharp early in the first period, withstanding an early barrage by Michigan (9-3-3, 2-1-1-1 Big Ten) while the Gophers (7-8, 3-1) struggled to get going offensively.
The Gophers took a 1-0 lead with 4:28 left in the period on a power-play goal from junior defenseman Jake Bischoff. Bischoff also factored into the Gophers’ second goal less than three minutes later when his point blast caromed off the skate of junior forward Hudson Fasching and into the net.
“Tonight was all about competing,” Bischoff said. “We didn’t show up [Friday] night and give it everything we had. Tonight, we worked hard for 60 minutes.”
“We wanted to leave ahead of Michigan” in the conferenced standings, Lucia said. “Splitting on the road here, that’s a good weekend for us.”