Burke's first two goals lift Gophers past Saints

MINNEAPOLIS -- When you’re mired in a drought, it makes sense that someone from the desert can guide you out of it.

Nathan Burke, the first Gopher hockey player from Arizona, scored the first two goals of his collegiate career, helping Minnesota to a 3-0 non-conference win over St. Lawrence on Saturday night, Nov. 17.

Burke, who came to the program from Scottsdale by way of a junior hockey stop in South Dakota, scored from close range in the first period and again in the second as the Gophers improved to 3-5-1.

"It's a good statement for him. He's a hockey player. I think he was in the top 10 in scoring in his league for a young guy," Gophers coach Bob Motzko said. "We want to continually add depth and guys that can change games. He's a hard worker who loves to play around the net. That's where he's best.

Burke was playing in just his third game of the season, on the third line’s left wing. He missed much of October due to a bout with mononucleosis, but on this net did his best work around the net. Positioned at the top of the crease, he took a pass from defenseman Tyler Nanne and tipped the puck past Saints goalie Emil Zetterquist for the early Gophers lead.

In the middle period, he was fed by Sammy Walker from behind the net, then spun around and lifted a shot into the upper-right corner of the net. The Gophers whiffed on a prime chance to add to the lead midway through the game when consecutive Saints penalties gave Minnesota 68 seconds of 5-on-3 power play.

Walker’s breakaway goal late in the third after a lead pass from defenseman Jack Sadek provided a much-needed cushion.

Burke, playing in Aberdeen last season, committed to play for Bob Motzko at St. Cloud State over the winter, but switched gears and followed the coach to Minnesota after Motzko changed jobs.

"Motzko and (Gophers assistant coach Garrett) Raboin recruited me really hard and I just felt comfortable," Burke said. "My mom always said 'when you know, you know,' and I felt right with them. Frankly, if they went anywhere else I'd follow them there too."

It was a quietly successful night for Gophers goalie Eric Schierhorn. Making his third start of the season, he faced just a dozen shots and stopped all of them for his first win of his senior season and his 12th career shutout.

"They had three power plays in the third and might've gotten one shot, so our guys were dialed in," Schierhorn said. "Not knocking St. Lawrence, but that was probably the easiest shutout I've had in college hockey. That's a credit to my team more than a knock on them."

Zetterquist, who had frustrated the Gophers on Friday, was again solid with 28 saves for the Saints (2-9-0).

"They stretched us pretty good and they played with purpose, won a lot of puck battles," Saints coach Mark Morris said. "We didn't get to the net much, and it wasn't pretty."

Game Summary

St. Lawrence 0-0-0—0

Minnesota 1-1-1—3

First period — 1. MIN, Nathan Burke 1 (Tyle Nanne, Blake McLaughlin), 8:01. Penalties — Cade Gleekel, STL (high sticking), 15:33.

Second period — 2. MIN, Burke 2 (Sammy Walker, McLaughlin), 7:47. 4. STL, David Jankowski 1 (Laidley, Gilmour), 15:41 (pp). Penalties — Callum Cusinato, STL (slashing), 9:10; Dylan Woolf, STL (interference), 10:03; Michael Schumacher, STL (slashing), 12:55; Sampo Ranta, MIN (interference), 15:12; Ben Brinkman, MIN (boarding), 17:29; Walker, MIN (tripping), 19:46.

Third period — 3. MIN, Walker 2 (Jack Sadek, Tommy Novak), 16:31. Penalties — Alex Gimour, STL (cross checking), 7:16; Walker, MIN (cross checking), 14:15.

Shots on goal — STL 3-7-2—12; MIN 10-12-9—31. Goalies — Emil Zetterquist, STL (31 shots-28 saves); Eric Schierhorn, MIN (12-12). Power plays — STL 0-of-4; MIN 0-of-5. Referees — Brian Thul, Ken Anderson. Linesmen — Nicholas Bradshaw, Sam Shikowsky. Att. — 8,098.