MINNEAPOLIS (GopherSports.com) – Eric Schierhorn made 33 saves including a late penalty shot for his fifth career shutout as the No. 13 Gopher Hockey program picked up a 2-0 win over No. 3 North Dakota on Saturday at Mariucci Arena.
The defending Big Ten Goaltender of the Year’s latest shutout proved to be his most difficult – his 33 saves were the most the sophomore has faced in a shutout effort. And none were as big as his penalty shot save on Brock Boeser with 40 seconds left in regulation as the Fighting Hawks tried desperately to find the back of the net. Schierhorn improved to 4-2-2 on the year and 24-19-2 as a Gopher.
Meanwhile, the Gophers (4-2-2 overall, 0-0-0-0 Big Ten) recorded goals from Mike Szmatula and Vinni Lettieri as the Maroon & Gold picked up their first win at Mariucci Arena of the season and are now unbeaten in their last four games (2-0-2).
After rallying four times in Friday’s 5-5 overtime tie, Szmatula gave the Gophers their first lead of the weekend at 10:34 of the first period. The junior forward, who tallied two assists on Friday, added a power-play goal just nine seconds into the Minnesota’s first advantage of the night when he tallied his fourth of the year off a setup from Tommy Novak and Jake Bischoff. Szmatula has now notched a point in four-straight games while Bischoff matched his career-best point streak at three with the assist.
The Gophers ended the night 1-for-3 on the power play and 3-for-3 on the penalty kill. Minnesota has now tallied a power-play goal in six of the last seven games with 11 power-play goals in that span.
Lettieri added his fourth of the year at 12:01 of the second period when he backhanded home a rebound to make it 2-0 in favor of the home team. Steve Johnson and Jack Glover earned assists on the goal.
The two-goal lead held up behind Schierhorn’s determination in net while the defense in front of him wasn’t afraid of getting in front of opponents’ shots either. The Gophers blocked 25 shots on the night compared to six by the Fighting Hawks.
Minnesota was outshot 20-33 in the win – giving the team its first victory of the season when trailing in shots (1-2-0).
In the stands, 10,310 fans attended the series finale – the ninth largest attendance in Mariucci Arena history.