The Minnesota men's hockey team duplicated it's Friday night performance on Saturday evening, taking down Michigan Tech with an identical 5-2 score on Senior Night at Mariucci Arena. The victory culminated the No. 20 Gophers' first WCHA home sweep of the season and a four-game season series sweep of the last-place Huskies.
Freshman Erik Haula got the scoring going early with a power-play tally. Four seconds into a Daniel Holmberg tripping minor, Haula teed the puck up after a Patrick White faceoff win and fired a pinpoint slapshot just under the crossbar to give Minnesota the early advantage.
Michigan Tech knotted the score with 8:11 remaining in the period when Milos Gordic whacked home a shot from the left hash mark under Minnesota netminder Kent Patterson's left pad 22 seconds after a Taylor Matson tripping penalty had expired.
In similar fashion to Friday night's contest, the Gophers notched three second period goals to pull away.
Under two minutes into the stanza, Mark Alt chipped the puck out of the Gopher zone to Jake Hansen. After breaking into the MTU zone, Hansen found Alt at the top of the circles and the freshman defenseman snapped a shot into the top right corner to make it 2-1.
Senior Jacob Cepis continued his five-game goal-scoring streak 4:37 later when barreled toward the net and knocked home a loose puck that Tech goaltender Josh Robinson almost smothered with his glove.
Just before the midway point in the game, Gophers Nick Bjugstad and Mike Hoeffel took roughing penalties after a play that ended in front of the Huskies' net, while Michigan Tech's Carl Nielsen picked up a five-minute major for facemasking.
After killing Michigan Tech's subsequent four-on-three power play, Minnesota struck again on its ensuing three-minute five-on-four mad-advantage. Jake Hansen redirected a Cade Fairchild shot from the blueline. Robinson made a quick pad save, but Hansen chipped in his own rebound on the backhand to make it 4-1.
With 1:11 to go in the period, the game started to get chippy when UM's Seth Helgeson laid a crushing hit on Bennett Royer away from the puck causing a fracas to break out after the following whistle behind the Minnesota cage. Royer and Minnesota's Jake Parenteau received game disqualifications for fighting and a total of 36 penalty minutes were assessed to four different players.
The Gophers killed off the resulting two-minute Tech 5-on-4 served by Cepis that ended 50 seconds into the third period, but the Huskies capitalized on their final power play of the game when Ryan Furne scored with 8:11 to go to make it 4-2.
After allowing MTU's second goal of the night, Minnesota buckled down on defense and Hansen added his second goal of the night to cap a 5-2 finish.
The Gophers gained a point on Colorado College, who tied 3-3 against Minnesota-Duluth and two points on Wisconsin, who fell 7-3 to St. Cloud State, to add some insurance to their fifth-place lead in the WCHA standings.
Minnesota will conclude its regular season next weekend when it travels to Bemidji State for a pair of games.