Gophers men's hockey blanks Army to end three-game losing streak
MINNEAPOLIS — Gophers hockey defenseman Jack Sadek could not wait for the 20-day holiday break to end.
Sure, he enjoyed spending time with his friends and family while also skating on outdoor rinks, but he wanted a chance to right the three-game losing streak the Gophers took into the break.
"I couldn't wait to get back and get the second half started," Sadek said.
He showed it. Sadek scored a goal and tallied an assist to lead No. 10 Minnesota to a 3-0 victory over Army on Friday in a nonconference game at 3M Arena at Mariucci. The victory was Minnesota's first since Dec. 1.
Minnesota goaltender Eric Schierhorn earned the shutout, but he faced only 13 shots. He had his shot-blocking defense and a Black Knights offense that struggled to capitalize on prime scoring opportunities to thank.
Look no further than Army's power play.
Minnesota left wing Rem Pitlick went to the box for tripping with 13:54 left in the first period. Army could not even put a shot on goal, much less score.
Then the Gophers (11-9-1) were called for too many men on the ice.
Again, no Army shots.
Gophers right wing Scott Reedy went to the box later in the first period for tripping. Still no power-play shots on goal from the Black Knights.
Gophers captain Tyler Sheehy showed Army (8-9-2) how to score when facing four skaters as he put the puck into the net top shelf midway through the first period. Sheehy's sixth goal of the season, which came during a four-on-four, gave Minnesota a 1-0 lead that it took into the first intermission.
The Gophers held the Black Knights to three shots in the first period. The Gophers blocked 21 shots through three periods as Army failed to score on four power-play opportunities.
These frequently blocked shots often took away any momentum the Black Knights had.
"It's tough when you are a forward and working hard to get in front of the net, then you get a shot blocked," Sheehy said.
Outside of Sheehy's goal, the Gophers were not finding much offensive success, either. They peppered Army goaltender Jared Dempsey with 30 shots. Minnesota also went 0 for 4 on the power play.
Dempsey played well, giving up only two goals. But Sadek said there was more to it than Dempsey's play.
"I think we are holding on to the puck, trying to be too cute," Sadek said.
Dempsey probably thought Sadek's shot was anything but cute when Sadek rocketed the puck from the high slot to seal the game with 3:19 remaining.
"We knew we needed to get the next goal, and the next goal (was) the biggest one," Sheehy said.
Sadek's goal, paired with Leon Bristedt's empty-net goal, met Minnesota's aspiration to win the third period.
"It's been a struggle for us recently," Gophers coach Don Lucia said.
So, too, was winning right before the break.
Despite the win, Sadek said he didn't see a vastly different team from the one which Minnesota took into the break.
"We have to just keep playing harder," he said.