After top-ranked Boston College topped Alabama in Huntsville 5-2 for Jerry York’s record 925th career win in the tournament opener, the Gophers (12-3-3 overall, 6-3-3 WCHA) set up a rematch of last year’s Frozen Four semifinal with the Mariucci Classic title on the line on Sunday as Minnesota goes for its first tournament title since 2008-09.
Haula opened the night for Minnesota with his team-high ninth goal of the year at 6:58 of the first period after being set up by Jake Parenteau and Sam Warning. Haula, who later added an assist to push his team-leading point total to 24 this season, has now tallied a point in 16 of Minnesota’s 18 games this year and needs just four points to reach the 100-point plateau.
Reilly picked up his first goal as a Gopher at 5:34 of the second when Christian Isackson found the wide-open freshman in front of the Air Force net for the Gophers’ second goal of the night – Justin Holl also assisted on the goal.
The Gophers, who outshot the Falcons 33-18 overall on Saturday, added a pair of third-period goals to seal the win. Kyle Rau added to the lead at 12:05 with the game’s lone power-play goal, knocking in the loose puck for his seventh of the year after being set up by Haula and Nick Bjugstad. Minnesota would finish the night 1-for-3 on the power play and 3-for-3 on the penalty kill.
Bjugstad would pick up his second assist of the night just under three minutes later at 15:03 when he set up Nate Condon for the junior forward’s fourth goal of the season.
While the Gophers’ offense was dominant in the win, Minnesota’s defense was solid behind Wilcox’s 18 saves. The rookie netminder improved to 11-2-3 this season with the win while Jason Torf took the loss for Air Force and fell to 5-8-4 with 29 saves.
No. 4 Minnesota returns to action tomorrow night in a matchup of top-five teams, hosting No. 1 Boston College in the Mariucci Classic championship game at 7 p.m. UAH and Air Force meet in the 4 p.m. game.