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Novak and Szmatula Honored By B1G after Big Weekend vs North Dakota

The Gophers got a win and a tie against the Fighting Hawks

Tommy Novak scores one of his two goals Friday night against UND.

Tommy Novak was named the #1 Star and Mike Szmatula was named the #3 Star of the Week by the Big Ten after they both factored significantly into the Gophers 5-5 tie Friday night and 2-0 win Saturday over formerly #3 North Dakota.

Novak led the Gophers with four points on the weekend. He came up huge in Friday night’s tie against the Fighting Hawks. Novak scored two goals including the game tying goal with 1:17 left in the game. Minnesota had an extra attacker on the ice with Eric Schierhorn pulled when Novak took a pass in the center of the ice from Justin Kloos and ripped a wrist shot past UND goalie Cam Johnson. He also scored the Gophers second goal of the night on the power play to tie the game at 2, and assisted on Tyler Sheehy’s power play goal to tie the game at three.

Novak would finish his weekend with his second assist in the game’s first goal on Saturday. Novak was in the corner and found Szmatula along the front of the Fighting Hawk net and he put the puck past Johnson to give the Gophers a 1-0 lead. It would give Szmatula three points on the weekend including two assists Friday night. Vinni Lettieri would add his fourth goal of the season in the second period to put the Gophers up 2-0.

That would be all Minnesota needed as Schierhorn bounced back from a subpar performance Friday night to be spectacular on Saturday stopping all 33 Fighting Hawk shots, including a penalty shot by Hobey Baker candidate Brock Boeser with under two minutes to play.

The Gophers are unbeaten in last 6 games against UND (4-0-2) and unbeaten in its last 9 vs. UND at Mariucci (5-0-4) dating back to 07-08. Not too shabby.

The Gophers moved up in the polls this week after their performance against the Fighting Hawks. Minnesota is now ranked 7th in the USA Today/ US Hockey Poll and 8th in the USCHO Poll.

The Gophers take a week off this week before getting ready for a home and home series next weekend against #11 Minnesota State.