Brodzinski scores twice as Gophers skate past UMD 5-1

The No. 6 Minnesota men’s hockey team put on a show in front of the second-largest crowd in 3M Arena at Mariucci history Friday night in a 5-1 win over No. 14 Minnesota Duluth.

A crowd of 10,739 witnessed the Golden Gophers (4-3-0 overall) dominate the Bulldogs (3-3-2 overall) behind two goals from Bryce Brodzinski, including the 50th of his career into an empty net, and a multi-point effort by Rhett Pitlick. The home side held UMD to only 14 total shots, six of which came over the final two frames.

Minnesota jumped to an early 1-0 lead as Cal Thomas buried a rebound at the 3:21 mark, recording the first goal of his collegiate career. Rhett Pitlick started the rush up the right wing and dropped a pass to Jaxon Nelson at the top of the slot. Nelson’s initial shot was saved, but Thomas had joined the rush and was in the perfect spot to net the go-ahead tally. The Gophers erased two UMD power plays in the middle of the frame and thanks to a tenacious forecheck in the final minute, added their second goal. Brodzinski stole the puck and finished at the net with 15 seconds remaining in the period.

The Gophers wasted no time making it a 3-0 advantage during the second period when Oliver Moore burst around the defense and lifted a shot over the goalie’s shoulder 1:14 into the stanza. The play started with Sam Rinzel’s crisp breakout pass that Connor Kurth played ahead to Moore. It was a dominant effort for the home team across all 20 minutes as it generated three power-play chances and limited the Bulldogs to just two shots on goal.

Minnesota needed to kill off an early penalty in the final frame to keep the visitors off the scoreboard. The offense picked right back up and Pitlick continued his strong performance Friday, putting home a Charlie Strobel centering pass at the 9:51 mark of the third as the Gophers piled on the offense in a 4-0 score. Justen Close had his shutout bid stopped with 3:57 to play as the Bulldogs found the back of the net before Minnesota finished off the night on a Brodzinski empty-net goal, winning 5-1.