MINNEAPOLIS – Playing the No. 6-ranked NCAA Div. I Minnesota Gophers, the Trinity Western men's hockey team hung around for the better part of two periods but ultimately lost 7-1 Saturday night at 3M Arena at Mariucci.
The Spartans skated with the Gophers in the first 20 minutes, going into the first intermission with a scoreless draw. Minnesota scored three goals in the second period and another in the third period before TWU's Travis Verveda scored a power play goal at 7:47 of the final frame. Brayden Brown (Calgary) had the assist.
The Gophers scored three goals inside the last eight minutes to seal the win.
Spartans netminder Jacob Mills (Burnaby, B.C.) made 43 saves in the loss.
Saturday's loss came a day after TWU became the first BCHIL team to ever beat an NCAA opponent when the Spartans beat Div. III Hamline University 2-1 in overtime.
Ryan Norman (two goals, one assist), Cullen Munson (three assists) and Sammy Walker (three assists) led the Maroon & Gold with three points each while 13 Minnesota skaters recorded points in the exhibition victory.
Along with Norman's pair of goals, the Gophers also found tallies from Sampo Ranta, Tyler Nanne, Blake McLaughlin and Rem Pitlick while Brent Gates Jr. picked up the eventual game-winning goal for the Maroon & Gold.
On the other end of the ice, three Minnesota goaltenders combined to make 20 saves on 21 shots in the contest. Mat Robson made three saves on three shots in the first to pick up the exhibition win followed by nine saves on nine shots from Eric Schierhorn in the second period. Brock Kautz closed out the game in the third period, making eight saves on nine shots – his lone blemish came on a Trinity Western 5-on-3, power-play goal from Travis Verveda.
The Gophers outshot Trinity Western 50-21 on Saturday night while going 2-for-5 on the power-play and 4-for-5 on the penalty kill.
With 21 goals in the last three games, Minnesota (1-0-1 overall, 0-0-0-0 Big Ten) beat then No. 1 Minnesota Duluth 7-4 in their last regular-season action on Oct. 7 before adding a 7-1 exhibition win over the U.S. National Under-18 Team last Saturday.
Minnesota returns to action next weekend with the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas against North Dakota on Saturday, Oct. 27.
Head Coach Barret Kropf
"I'm super proud of our guys. It was an awesome experience, coming down to play a world class organization and they just treated us so well. When you're a super underdog, you just find ways to rally. For us, I thought it was the best game in my six years here in which we've blocked shots, we limited our turnovers and we really took care of the puck. And in net, Mills stood on his head. He was great.
"Three of their goals were NHL-quality tic-tac-toe blasts that were just great plays. For our guys to be able to hang in there with these guys was a great experience for us and hopefully we can build on this as we return to league play next weekend."
Recognized for quality, TWU has received seven consecutive A+ rankings for Quality of Teaching and Learning, holds three Canada Research Chairs, and wins national championships in CIS sports. More importantly, lives are changed at TWU through its whole-person, Christ-centred approach to education. With a wide array of undergraduate, graduate, and adult degree-completion programs, TWU equips leaders of character and competence to make a positive impact in the lives of others.
About Spartan Athletics
As official members of U SPORTS, the Spartans currently compete in 10 sports in the Canada West conference, including women's and men's soccer, volleyball, basketball, cross country and track & field. TWU also competes in the British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League (BCIHL) in men's hockey. Since TWU entered U SPORTS in 1999, the Spartans have won 11 U SPORTS team championships and 25 Canada West team championships.