Minnesota to face Minnesota State in the West Regional Final
Gophers win First NCAA Tourney Game since 0.6 Seconds Game vs. North Dakota in 2014
Loveland, CO – It has been almost seven years since Minnesota’s last NCAA Tournament win, a Frozen Four thriller against North Dakota where the Gophers scored with 0.6 seconds left to win the game.
Since then, Minnesota lost in the 13-14 Championship game against Union and has lost in the first round twice to go along with missing the tournament in three other seasons.
This year’s Gopher team appears to be making up for lost time.
The Minnesota Gophers (24-6-0 Overall) rode consistent and early offense to a 7-2 win over the Omaha Mavericks (14-11-1) in the first round of the NCAA tournament’s West region in Loveland, CO. Mason Nevers scored his first two goals as a Gopher, and Brock Faber tacked on five assists in the win.
The Gophers advance to play against the Minnesota State Mavericks, who rallied from two goals down late in the third to beat Quinnipiac 4-3 in overtime and move on to the regional final. The winner will advance to the Frozen Four.
As they’ve done so often this season, the Gophers jumped out to the lead in the first. Freshman Mason Nevers got Minnesota on the board with the first goal of his Gopher career at 5:48 of the first period. Nevers cleaned up a loose puck in front of the net to put Minnesota up 1-0. The Gophers added two more goals late in the first, with Jack Perbix tipping in a Brock Faber shot at 15:35 and Scott Reedy scoring as the late-man on a three-on-two at 17:36 to put Minnesota up 3-0.
Omaha scored 28 seconds after the Reedy goal to go into the first intermission down 3-1 and perhaps grab a bit of the momentum, but the Gophers jumped right back on the Mavericks early in the second.
Ryan Johnson scored his second of the year (and first against a goalie) 41 seconds into the middle frame to go up 4-1 and firmly grab the momentum back. The Gophers made it 5-1 on a Ben Meyers goal 7:13 into the second, and then 6-1 on Nevers’ second of the season and second of the night at 16:13.
Omaha’s Taylor Ward scored his second of the game at 3:05 of the third to draw within four at 6-2, but Sampo Ranta answered right back at 4:17 to put Minnesota back up to a comfortable five-goal cushion. The 7-2 score held for the rest of the third, and the Gophers earned their first NCAA tournament victory since the “0.6 seconds” game against North Dakota in the 13-14 Frozen Four.
Brannon McManus stopped skating on his usual line midway through thte game, and coach Bob Motzko confirmed that McManus will likely be out of the Gopher lineup for the regional final tomorrow.
Minnesota battles Minnesota State Sunday at 7PM central time. The game can be seen on ESPN2 and heard on AM1130.