Minnesota routs Mankato 6-0

The Minnesota men's hockey team extended its unbeaten streak to seven games (5-0-2) as it shut out Minnesota State 6-0 in Mankato. Freshman goaltender Kellen Briggs recorded his fourth shutout to set a Minnesota rookie record for shutouts in a year. The Golden Gophers (12-8-3, 7-7-1 WCHA) won in a penalty-filled contest, as both teams combined for 108 penalty minutes (60 for UM). Minnesota is now 10-1-2 in its last 13 games and is at the .500 mark in the WCHA for the first time this season.

Kellen Briggs, who had 18 saves, moved into a tie for second place on the season shutouts list with Jim Mattson (1952-53). He needs just one more shutout to tie Robb Stauber (1987-88). Briggs' blanking of the Mavericks marks the first back-to-back shutouts for Minnesota since UM pasted Colgate, 8-0 and 9-0 on Oct. 26-27, 2001, and the first time a UM goaltender has posted consecutive shutouts since Adam Hauser blanked Alaska Anchorage, 4-0 and 1-0, in the first round of the WCHA Playoffs on March 12-13, 1999.

The Golden Gophers went up 3-0 after the first period on goals by Barry Tallackson, Gino Guyer and Troy Riddle. Minnesota drew first blood at 3:42 on the power play, using nice passing to find Tallackson in the slot for his first goal since Dec. 5 at Alaska Anchorage. Tallackson gained the puck, skated around MSU goaltender Jon Volp and beat the netminder low on the glove side. It was Tallackson's fifth lamplighter of the season. Guyer and Chris Harrington earned assists on the play.

Just 2:10 later, UM made it 2-0 with Guyer's eighth goal of the season. The Golden Gophers peppered Volp with shots on a flurry down low with Tyler Hirsch's shot taking a high rebound and dropping in front of Guyer to knock in the puck with a backhander on Volp's stick side. Hirsch and Grant Potulny picked up assists on the play. The Maroon and Gold gained the 3-0 lead at 14:20 on Troy Riddle's 13th goal of the season on the power play. Thomas Vanek batted the puck off the wall, skated through the MSU zone across the slot and found Riddle in front of the net for the put-away. Matt Koalska got the second assist on the play. With the goal, Riddle moved into a tie for 18th place on the school career goals list at 71 with John Pohl (1999-2002).

Minnesota pushed the advantage to 4-0 at 8:50 in the second period on a breakaway goal by Koalska. With the teams skating 4-on-4 Harrington skated the puck up the middle of the rink and fed Koalska behind the Maverick defense, allowing the senior forward to beat Volp via the five hole for his seventh goal of the season. Riddle gained the second assist on the play. The Golden Gophers added to the rout at 16:27 with Vanek's first shorthanded goal of his career. Minnesota forced a turnover in the neutral zone, with Vanek passing to Jake Fleming to gain the offensive zone. Fleming fired a slapshot that trickled through Volp's pads and laid in the crease for Vanek to tip in for his team-leading 14th goal of the season.

The final period was more of the same with the Maroon and Gold moving the score to 6-0 at 11:14 with Potulny's ninth goal of the season. Minnesota employed some solid forechecking with Hirsch finding Potulny in front of the net for the five-hole goal. Guyer picked up the second assist for his game-high third point of the night (1-2--3). The third period got chippy with the intrastate rivals combining for 74 penalty minutes.

Briggs earned the shutout win to move his record to 10-5-3. Briggs is now 4-0-2 in his last six decisions and in the midst of a season-long 157:50 shutout streak. His four shutouts broke the Minnesota rookie record set by Adam Hauser in 1998-99. The Golden Gophers are now 10-0-0 this season when their goaltender has a .900 saves percentage or better.

The two intrastate rivals close out the season series tomorrow night at the Midwest Wireless Civic Center at 7:05 p.m.

Gopher Illustrated Top Stories