MINNEAPOLIS -- Despite a mild start to the winter, seasoned Minnesotans knew the cold and the snow would come eventually. Similarly, after a close start to their game with Arizona State on Friday, it seemed like only a matter of time before the Minnesota Gophers would erupt.
They did, with a half-dozen goals in the final 16 minutes, pulling away from the Sun Devils for a 10-2 win and an emphatic sweep of their two-game series.
In improving to 13-3-0 overall, the Gophers got two goals each from Blake McLaughlin and Jack Perbix, and the first career goal by freshman defenseman Carl Fish. It was the first time they had scored 10 or more goals on back-to-back nights since beating Dartmouth 11-0 and 10-3 on Dec. 29-30, 1953.
Jared Moe had 19 saves to improve to 2-0-0 this season. The Gophers led 4-2 to start the third period, then opened the floodgates when Sammy Walker fed McLaughlin for a short-handed goal. Five more goals followed in quick succession, including the first two by Perbix this season.
“We talk a lot in between periods and we just said ‘enough is enough. We’ve got to take this game over and play the way we can play,’” said Perbix.
It was an uncharismatic weekend for the Sun Devils, who fell to 5-13-2 and head back to the desert having gone 1-7-0 on their latest eight-game road trip. Due to the pandemic, they are playing all 28 of their games away from home this season, and have been hit by injuries and COVID-19 in addition to all of the time away from campus.
“I always say there’s one weekend you’ve got to put in the garbage can and this is it, because they’re going in the right direction. They’ve got good hockey players,” Gophers coach Bob Motzko said of the Sun Devils, who made the NCAA tournament in 2019 and were poised to make it again in 2020 before the season was halted due to the pandemic.
The Friday afternoon tilt began in strikingly similar fashion to Thursday night’s 10-0 Gophers blowout, with Brannon McManus scoring his fourth goal of the series before even one minute had elapsed. Indeed, the Gophers dominated the opening 20 minutes out-shooting the Sun Devils 17-9, but they went to the dressing room for the first intermission tied 1-1 after ASU answered with a breakaway goal.
The Gophers opened up some breathing room in the second with a trio of goals, including two in a span of less than 30 seconds. The latter of those came on a shot from the blue line by Fish, a freshman defenseman and former prep star at St. Paul Johnson. It came after he had collected his first collegiate assist in Thursday’s game. He had a small cheering section amid the limited number of family members in attendance, and they exploded in cheers when the red light came on after his shot.
“I noticed we had a lot of traffic out front so I tried to shoot one up high and look for a stick to deflect it. And I never saw the puck moving, it just went right to the back of the net,” said Fish, noting that his parents and two aunts were in attendance. “I can’t really describe the feeling right now. Give me a day or two to figure it out and I’ll get back to you.”
It was the second start of the season and the second time facing the Sun Devils for Moe, who got a 6-4 win versus ASU on Jan. 4. The 20 goals were not the most the Gophers have scored in a weekend. In Doug Woog’s first season as head coach (1985-86) they swept Maine in Minneapolis by scores of 8-3 and 16-2.
Sun Devils coach Greg Powers admitted that with the long road trips and the combination of illness and injuries, his team was out of gas in this series.
“I just said, ‘let’s get out of here and go home.’ It’s time to go home,” Powers said. His team will fly back to Arizona for a few weeks off starting on Saturday. “At least tonight we had a handful of guys play hard and battle, and really, really empty the tanks.”
Sun Devils goalie Evan DeBrouwer had 37 saves in the loss. The Gophers now get a seven-day break before facing Ohio State on the road on Jan. 29-30.
Arizona State 1-1-0—2
First period — 1. MIN, Brannon McManus 6 (Ben Meyers, Brock Faber), 0:56. 2. ASU, Chris Grando 3 (Johnny Walker), 12:48. Penalties — None.
Second period — 3. MIN, Blake McLaughlin 6 (Faber, Jack Perbix), 4:12. 4. MIN, Sampo Ranta 10 (McManus, Meyers), 13:50. 5. MIN, Carl Fish 1 (Sammy Walker), 14:17. 6. ASU, Michael Mancinelli 5 (Jax Murray, Ryan O’Reilly), 19:24. Penalties — Faber, MIN (interference), 9:18; Cullen Munson, MIN (slashing), 14:45; Walker, ASU (tripping), 16:25.
Third period — 7. MIN, McLaughlin 6 (Walker, Jackson LaCombe), 4:53, (sh). 8. MIN, Perbix 1 (unassisted), 5:22. 9. MIN, Meyers 7 (Ranta), 6:13. 10. MIN, Perbix 2 (Scott Reedy, LaCombe), 8:45. 11. MIN, Reedy 7 (McLaughlin), 10:12. 12. MIN, Bryce Brodzinski 5 (Nathan Burke), 17:49. Penalties — Brodzinski, MIN (tripping), 3:06; Munson, MIN (cross checking), 17:49.
Shots on goal — MIN 17-12-18—47; ASU 9-6-6—21. Goalies — Jared Moe, MIN (21 shots-19 saves); Evan DeBrouwer, ASU (47-37). Power plays — MIN 0-of-1, ASU 0-of-4. Referees — Anthony Czech, Kenneth Anderson. Linesmen — Matthew Gerlach, Nicholas Bradshaw. Att. — NA.