The Gophers are already seeing the effects of Kyle Rau’s decision to decline an early departure for the pros and return for his senior season. The captain scored two goals in Saturday night’s 5-0 exhibition victory over Northern Alberta Institute of Technology at Mariucci Arena.
Goaltenders Adam Wilcox, Ryan Coyne and Nick Lehr combined on the shutout, each playing a period.
Rau’s surge of offense jump-started another season after he led the team in points a year ago. The goals, both scored in the second period, indicate that his return could play a pivotal role in the team’s success.
Hudson Fasching set up Rau for an easy goal in the opening minute of the period. Rau created the second goal on the move by deflecting Connor Reilly’s offering at the net in the final seconds of the period to give the Gophers a 3-0 lead.
“It got a little sluggish there in the second, but I think [Rau’s second goal] kick-started us and woke us up,” senior forward Travis Boyd said after scoring a goal of his own. “That’s what a captain is supposed to do. A captain is supposed to get you going, and he did a great job of that tonight.”
Rau said the goals were lucky and fortunate, but coach Don Lucia said he would prefer that most of the Gophers’ goals be scored in a similar fashion, with pucks picked up around the net.
“That’s where all the goals are scored,” Rau said. “I just kind of go there and see what happens.”
It took two periods for the Gophers to find a rhythm. Lucia rotated players in different lines all game, and that played a role in the slow start.
The Gophers freshmen were effective and played a significant role. Freshman defenseman Jack Glover scored the game’s first goal, forward Robin Hoglund had an assist, and several other freshmen contributed quality scoring chances.
Senior Christian Isackson scored the final goal on a backhand shot set up by a 360-degree move in front of the net.
“We were a little scrambled in the first period,” Lucia said. “We gotta get the shinny hockey out of them and get into some game action. I did think we got better as the game went on.”
Ferris State 4, Michigan 3: Chad McDonald scored two goals as the Bulldogs (1-0) defeated the Wolverines (0-1) in a top-10 nonconference matchup in Big Rapids, Mich.
McDonald’s second goal was short-handed and came late in the second period to give Ferris State a 4-1 lead.
Michigan got goals from Travis Lynch and Evan Allen in the third period.