Minnesota 3, RPI 0
MADISON, Wis. (AP) _ Nick Checco scored two first-period goals and senior Jeff Callinan was perfect in goal for just the second time in his career as Minnesota shut out Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute 3-0 Friday in the first round of the NCAA West Region hockey tournament.
Minnesota (24-13-5) advances to meet second-seeded Colorado College (30-11-1) on Saturday, with the winner going to the national semifinals next weekend at Providence, R.I.
RPI, which qualified for the 12-team NCAA tournament field by winning the Eastern College Athletic Conference’s tournament Sunday after finishing sixth in the regular season, ended coach Dan Fridgen’s first season at 18-14-4.
The shutout marked the second straight year RPI bowed out of the tournament without scoring a goal. RPI lost to New Hampshire 2-0 in the NCAA East Region last season.
Callinan, who led the Western Collegiate Hockey Association with a 2.73 goals against average and 43 shutout periods, had 22 saves. His first career shutout was on Feb. 10 against Minnesota-Duluth.
Checco opened the scoring at 4:19 with a slapshot from the top of the left circle. He flipped the puck over the right shoulder of Engineers goalie Mike Tamburro, who had a career-high 50 saves, at 15:41 to make it 2-0.
Checco, a sophomore who was eighth on his team with 20 points this season, had four goals and an assist in last year’s playoffs.
``I don’t save myself for the playoffs or anything like that,″ Checco said. ``Everyone tries to pick it up for the playoffs and I did tonight.″
Right wing David Larson, who had five assists this season, assisted on both of Checco’s goals as the Gophers advanced to their record 11th consecutive NCAA quarterfinals.
Minnesota outshot the Engineers 18-4 in the first period and 53-22 overall.
RPI had three power plays in the second period but failed to score, and Callinan made a sprawling save on a 2-on-1 break nine minutes in.
``That as a big confidence builder,″ Callinan said. ``It snowballed from there.″
Bobby Dustin capped the scoring with a power-play goal between the circles at 9:38 of the third period, dropping RPI to 2-8 lifetime against the Gophers.
``I thought off the opening faceoff we fell behind a little bit. ``It was tough playing catch-up hockey,″ Fridgen said. ``There weren’t many times when we took the puck over the blue line and were able to make a play.″
Minnesota finished fourth in the WCHA during the regular season and third in the playoffs. But by virtue of having the nation’s toughest schedule, the Gophers were seeded third, one spot ahead of host Wisconsin, which won the WCHA tournament after finishing second during the season.