The Gophers jumped out to an early lead in this game thanks to Sam Warning, who slipped a breakaway attempts betewen the legs of Minnesota-Duluth goaltender Kasimir Kaskisuo just thirty seconds in to the first period. The Gophers were all over the Bulldogs early, despite a rash of first period penalties.
Kyle Rau added a short-handed goal five minutes later, beating Kskisuo between the legs again. Kaskisuo looked shaky through the first two periods, but settled down towards the end of the game.
The Gophers added two more goals in the second period: Justin Koos scored on the power play, and Hudson Fasching scored late. In between those two goals, Dominic Toninato scored for the Bulldogs, so this game was 4-1 after two periods.
Duluth came out flying to start the third, and had the Gophers on their heals for a good portion of the period. Andy Walenski scored just 25 seconds into the period, and Toninato added his second marker of the game three minutes later, after a Travis Boyd tripping penalty.
The Bulldogs pulled Kaskisuo for an extra attacker with about two minutes remaining, but they would not score and the Gophers earned a 4-3 victory to open the year.
The Gophers were the better team early, but took far to many penalties early in the game. While Duluth only capitalized on one of their four attempts, the penalties allowed the Bulldogs to continually regain momentum. The Gophers improved in this regard throughout the game, and didn't take any penalties in the third period, which was critical because Duluth brought a lot of pressure and ten shots on goal during the period.
The Gophers appeared to come out of the second period on auto-pilot. It's hard for me to really comment on the intensity level because the whole game looked like it was being played in slow motion on the internet stream. I would have like to have seen a cleaner third period, but it's the first game of the season and I'm not going to get too worked up.
Adam Wilcox saved 24 of 27 shots and made some key saves to keep the Gophers ahead in this game. Looks like he's right back to his old self from last year.
The Gophers only put 22 shots on goal, about 12 or 13 less than most games last year. Part of that was self-inflicted in the first period with so many penalties.
Overall, the team looked a bit rusty. There were some passes missed, a couple defensive assignments blown, and of course too many penalties. Keep it in perspective though: first game of the year against a good team in a weird time slot and an empty arena, and still a Gophers victory. Off to a good start!