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Lehr wins first Gophers start

by John Peterson

 

Nick Lehr (Roseville, MN) has never been a goalie who lets his emotions get the best of him, regardless of how he’s playing. But Thursday at Mariucci Arena in Minneapolis, the 21-year-old freshman for the University of Minnesota faced a challenge much bigger than any he’d experienced in his career.

In his first career start for the maroon and gold, Lehr allowed three goals on four shots as his 14th-ranked Golden Gophers trailed Michigan State 3-0 in the first period in front of 9,651 fans. Challenge accepted.

The most decorated goaltender in Austin Bruins history settled in and finished strong, as Minnesota rattled off five unanswered goals en route to a 5-3 victory. Lehr stopped the final 20 shots he saw after the shaky start to earn his first career NCAA win.

After the game, Gophers Head Coach Don Lucia praised Lehr’s mental toughness in bouncing back to earn the win. ESPN’s lead college hockey broadcaster John Buccigross named Lehr the “Star of the Night” on SportsCenter.

One year after playing in 53 games for the Bruins on their way to the NAHL’s Robertson Cup Finals, Lehr is paying his dues at one of the nation’s most prestigious programs as a backup to one of college hockey’s best goalies, junior Adam Wilcox (South St. Paul, MN). The freshman has appeared in just two games this season, but with questions as to whether Wilcox will turn pro after the year, Lehr will have a chance to prove himself again.

In three seasons with the Bruins, Lehr holds team goaltender record, including wins (81), shutouts (10), saves (3,304) and minutes (7,562). He committed to his hometown Golden Gophers during the 2013-14 season in which he posted a regular season record of 35-13-1, with a 1.84 goals-against average and 93.2% save percentage in Austin.