Gophers Open Mariucci Classic With a Win
MINNEAPOLIS (GopherSports.com) – Brent Gates Jr. tallied his first career hat trick and the fourth hat trick in Mariucci Classic history as the No. 11 Gopher Hockey program opened the 26th annual tournament with a 5-1 win over Mercyhurst on Friday night.
The Maroon & Gold will compete for its 14th Mariucci Classic title on Saturday night at 7 p.m. CT against Massachusetts, who opened the tournament with a 2-1 overtime win over Alabama Huntsville.
In addition to Gates’ hat trick, Minnesota also picked up goals from Justin Kloos and Leon Bristedt, who tied his career high with three points in the win. Meanwhile, Mike Szmatula notched a pair of assists in his return to the Gophers lineup while Luke Notermann tallied an assist in his college debut.
Between the pipes, Eric Schierhorn picked up his 30th career win, stopping 27 of 28 shots on goal and moving to 10-5-2 on the year.
The Gophers (10-5-2 overall, 3-1-0-0 Big Ten) jumped out to an early lead behind a pair of power-play tallies from Gates. The sophomore forward deflected in his seventh of the year at 10:52 of the first and then lifted home a backhanded shot at 13:25 for his eighth strike of the season. The second tally proved to be the game winner for Gates, who has now notched the deciding goal in two-straight games. Bristedt earned the primary assist on both goals with Steve Johnson picking up the secondary assist on the opening goal and Vinni Lettieri doing so on the second. Merchurst cut the lead back to one when Derek Barach put the Lakers on the board with his fourth of the year at 16:24.
After setting up a pair of goals in the first, Bristedt scored one of his own in the second period. The junior pocketed his sixth of the year at 16:30 from Szmatula and Notermann.
With a 3-1 lead after two periods, the Maroon & Gold added two more in the third with Gates completing the hat trick at 5:15 on an unassisted goal – his ninth goal of the year -- and Szmatula finding Kloos for a shorthanded, empty-net goal at 16:49.
Minnesota outshot the Lakers 30-28 and went unblemished on the penalty kill at 6-for-6.