After falling behind 1-0, the Minnesota men's hockey team reeled off four consecutive goals en route to a 5-2 victory against Michigan Tech to kick off Senior Weekend at Mariucci Arena on Friday night. With the win, the No. 20 Gophers leapfrogged Wisconsin, who fell to St. Cloud State 4-2, to reach fifth place in the WCHA.
Minnesota controlled the play in the first period and came close to grabbing the game's first goal two minutes in. With Tech's Ryan Furne in the penalty box for cross-checking, Aaron Ness blew a one-timer past Huskies netminder Kevin Genoe off a give-and-go feed from Nick Bjugstad. Upon further review, the goal was waived off because the Gophers had a man in the crease.
Six and a half minutes after coming out of a scoreless intermission, MTU stuck first when Daniel Holmberg ripped a shot from the top of the right circle over the glove of Minnesota goaltender Kent Patterson.
The Gophers rebounded almost instantly, however, when Taylor Matson shelved a long blast from the point off a one-time feed from senior Pat White 23 seconds later.
Nick Larson gave UM a lead it would not relinquish under four minutes after Matson's strike. Larson collected a Bjugstad pass that slipped under an outstretched Genoe, who was trying to poke the loose puck out of danger, and took a wrist shot that hit the net just inside the left post.
A little over two minutes later, Jacob Cepis extended his goal-scoring streak to four games to give the Gophers a 3-1 lead. After crossing the blueline with speed, Cepis dropped the puck to Justin Holl. Holl unleashed a shot that Genoe kicked out with a right-pad save and Cepis buried the rebound into the gaping net.
With Nico Sacchetti off for a tripping call early in the third period, Bjugstad cushioned the Minnesota lead with the team's first shorthanded goal since Cade Fairchild's man-down marker on Oct. 30, 2010 against Colorado College. The freshman forward picked the pocket of Daniel Sova at the Gophers' blueline and sped into the MTU zone for a breakaway goal. The trailing Sova was also called for slashing on the play to nullify the Huskies' man-advantage.
Tech cut the Minnesota lead to two when Milos Gordic scored with under five minutes remaining, but Bjugstad slid home his second shorthanded goal of the contest on an empty net with one second to go to give the Gophers a 5-2 win.
Bjugstad became the first Minnesota to score two shorthanded goals in a game since Tony Lucia accomplished the feat on Oct. 30, 2009 against Alaska-Anchorage. It was the second time this season he scored an empty-netter at 19:59 of the third period against Michigan Tech. He now has 11 points in 11 games since returning from the World Junior Championship Tournament in January.
The two teams will meet again on Senior Night tomorrow at Mariucci Arena. The game will begin at 7:30 p.m.