MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Golden Gophers coach Don Lucia admitted concern about the eight Minnesota players who have never skated in a playoff game prior to Friday night.
But after his team's 3-1 win over Michigan Tech in the opener of the WCHA playoffs, Lucia says the kids are all right.
Freshman forward Andy Sertich had a goal and an assist for the sixth-ranked Gophers, who took a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three playoff series. The victory marked the 19th consecutive home playoff win by the Gophers (21-8-9).
WCHA Hockey Tournament
First Round (Best-of-3) Friday, March 14
Colorado College 5, Alaska-Anchorage 3
Minnesota 3, Michigan Tech 1
Minn.-Mankato 2, Wisconsin 1
Denver 4, North Dakota 1
Minn.-Duluth 5, St. Cloud St. 4
(10) Alaska Anchorage at (1) Colorado College
(9) Michigan Tech at (2) Minnesota
(8) Wisconsin at (3) Minn.-Mankato
(7) Denver at (4) North Dakota
(6) St. Cloud St. at (5) Minn.-Duluth
Chris Conner scored the only goal for the Huskies (10-23-4) who are now winless in their last 15 games versus Minnesota (0-13-2).
"It was great for our young guys to get this experience," Lucia said. "In the playoffs it's harder to make plays and goals are harder to come by, so Andy giving us that early lead was huge."
It took less than two minutes for the Gophers to establish a lead, when Sertich scored his fifth goal of the season just 1:51 into the game. After a pass from linemate Jerrid Reinholz, Sertich got off a low shot that beat Huskies goalie Cam Ellsworth between the skates.
Troy Riddle's power-play goal near the midway point of the second period gave Minnesota a 2-0 lead. Gophers goalie Travis Weber started the play, passing to Tyler Hirsch, who fed Riddle for the goal. The assist was Weber's first career point.
"It's pretty exciting to finally get an assist," said Weber, who finished with 21 saves in his first playoff start. "I think as a team we were ready tonight. We might be peaking at the right time."
The second period's biggest ovation came when Minnesota senior Matt DeMarchi was whistled for hooking. The penalty gave DeMarchi 454 career penalty minutes, making him the school's new career leader in that category. The old mark of 453 was set by Chris McAlpine in 1994.
"You need those type of players who can create some room on the ice," Lucia said. "Matt's had a nice career here."
Hirsch assisted on a Grant Potulny power-play goal later in the second to give Minnesota a 3-0 lead. But the Huskies got a power-play goal of their own in the final minute of the period to pull back within two. Conner completed a two-on-one play by faking a forehand shot, then stuffing a backhander past Weber.
"We did some good things, but it gets down to special team," said Huskies coach Mike Sertich. "Their special teams were pretty good, and we're not there yet."
Minnesota fans got a scare late in the second period when the Gophers' top defenseman, Paul Martin, blocked a Jon Pittis slap shot. The puck hit Martin in the right knee and he collapsed in obvious pain before crawling off the ice. After being rushed to the trainers' room, Martin played in the third period.
Ellsworth finished with 29 saves for the Huskies.
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