Nevers gets his first goal of the season. Photo by Bjorn Franke (Gopher Sports)
Nevers gets his first goal of the season. Photo by Bjorn Franke (Gopher Sports)

Gophers Close Out Non-Conference Schedule with Sweep of Robert Morris Colonials

Minneapolis, MN – Behind a barrage of 101 total shots on goal over the weekend, the Minnesota Gophers (10-6-2-2 Overall, 4-4-1-3 B1G) beat the Robert Morris Colonials (6-15-0-3, 3-9-1-1 AH) 4-2 on Friday and 4-1 on Saturday for just their second weekend sweep of the season.

Despite the eye-popping shot totals, the games on the ice were not quite the total domination that the stats would lead the casual observer to believe. Robert Morris actually led the game (albeit briefly) Friday night when a Robert Morris point-shot snuck through a screen and past goalie Nathan Airey’s glove to give the Colonials an early 1-0 lead at 4:13 of the first period.

Minnesota answered right back, when Jaxon Nelson tipped in a Sam Rinzel shot just 22 seconds after the RMU goal to draw level at 1-1. Brody Lamb gave the Gophers their first lead of the weekend at 5:51 of the period when his powerplay strike beat RMU’s Francis Boisvert to put Minnesota up 2-1.

The Gophers put 28 shots on goal in the first period, but only had the two goals to show for it, and (as was a theme the whole weekend) Robert Morris hung around with a chance to make something happen.

In the second period Friday night, Minnesota was able to expand the lead to 3-1 when Oliver Moore cleaned up the rebound on a nice Luke Mittelstadt rush at 5:18.

The third period was played tight, with Robert Morris still hanging around down just two goals. The Gophers finally got the insurance goal they needed when Bryce Brodzinski scored on a breakaway at 16:15 to put Minnesota up 4-1. Robert Morris scored on the powerplay at 18:02 to make it interesting, but the game ended with a 4-2 final score. The Friday victory was Bob Motzko’s 400th career win as a head coach.

“I’ve been around a while. I’ve been pretty lucky that a couple of pretty good universities have given me a job with a lot of good hockey players,” said Motzko. “I’ve surrounded myself with a lot of pretty good hockey coaches. I’m pretty fortunate, been pretty lucky and I know it.”

The Colonials were not a pushover Saturday night, either. Although Minnesota never trailed in Saturday’s affair, the Gophers weren’t comfortable until Jimmy Snuggerud’s mid-third period goal to give his team a 4-1 lead.

Before Snuggerud’s dagger (on his 20th shot on goal of the weekend), the Gophers got goals from some unlikely sources. Mason Nevers scored his first goal of the season at 9:37 of the first to put Minnesota up 1-0. Mike Koster scored his first of the season at 4:53 of the second period to give the Gophers a 2-0 lead, which expanded to 3-0 on Aaron Huglen’s fourth goal of the season at 10:12 of the middle frame.

The Colonials scored late in the second period to set up a nailbiter of a third, but Snuggerud’s wrist shot snipe at 8:24 of the final stanza was all but the nail on the coffin for Robert Morris.

The Gophers swept a series for just the second time all season, and the first since the very first series of the year against St. Thomas. This is only the third time Minnesota has won more than one game in a row.

Jimmy Snuggerud’s 17 goals are tied for second in the country, just one back of Denver’s Jack Devine.

Up next, the Gophers host the Ohio State Buckeyes, who are 8-0-2 in non-conference play but didn’t earn their first Big Ten win until this last weekend, in a split with Notre Dame. The Friday/Saturday series starts at 7PM each night.