Minnesota sets school PPG record in win
Columbus, OH – Head coach Don Lucia likes to talk about how the Gophers will go as far as their defense will take them.
Tonight, however, the offense led the way.
Riding a school record six powerplay goals, Minnesota (18-8-2 Overall, 9-3-0 B1G) upended The Ohio State University (14-8-6, 5-6-1) by a 6-5 final score. The Gophers erased a three-goal deficit to pull out the win and sit alone atop the B1G standings with four weekends remaining.
The Ohio State University got off to a good start in this contest, scoring the first three goals of the game to pull ahead 3-0 by the 5:32 mark of the second period. Vinni Lettieri’s PPG at 6:18 drew Minnesota to within two, and Brent Gates’ PPG at 12:31 pulled the Gophers within one at 3-2. The Buckeyes’ Nick Schilkey scored his conference-leading 22nd goal less than two minutes later to push OSU’s lead back to two goals at 4-2.
Just 24 seconds after Schilkey’s goal, the Buckeyes’ Josh Healey took a 5-minute major for Contact to the Head, giving the potent Gopher powerplay five minutes to get back into it. Minnesota was able to score twice on the major (Justin Kloos at 16:58 and Tyler Sheehy at 18:40) to knot the game at 4-4 heading into the third.
Ohio State again was able to grab the lead on a bad Jack Glover turnover in the Gopher defensive zone. The Buckeyes’ Dakota Joshua put OSU on top 5-4 at 8:24 of the third. The penalties were not done, however, and Ohio State’s Luke Stork was called for another 5-minute major at 11:00 of the final frame. Minnesota’s powerplay, already successful four times throughout the game, was able to find the back of the net twice more in the five-minute man advantage, with Vinni Lettieri rocketing his second one-time goal of the game at 12:34, and Jake Bischoff kissing a one-timed slapshot off of the inside of the post at 15:34.
The sixth powerplay goal gave the Gophers their first lead of the game at 6-5. Ohio State frantically tried to tie it up, pulling their goalie for most of the final two minutes of play, but Minnesota was able to keep the puck out of the net as the horn sounded.
The win kept some positive momentum going for the Gophers, who had vaulted up the PairWise Rankings with their sweep over Penn State a weekend previous. The win let the Gophers eke out a split away from home against a tough Ohio State team, as well as to ascend to the top of the B1G standings and remain in strong position (#5 overall) in the PWR. Thanks to Penn State’s road sweep at Wisconsin, the Gophers now sit three points clear of the Badgers in the B1G standings at 27 total points. Penn State moved up into third at 22 points.
The last four weekends will be crucial to determine playoff positioning as well as B1G standings. Minnesota travels to Penn State next weekend to take on the Nittany Lions, then is home to battle Wisconsin. The following weekend they’re at Michigan, before wrapping up the regular season at home against Michigan State.
The games at Penn State are early starts, with Friday’s contest beginning at 5:30 Central and Saturday’s affair a 6PM Central puck drop. Both games can be seen on BTN, streamed on BTN2Go, and heard on AM1500.
Minnesota outshot Ohio State 37-22 in the game.
The Gophers officially went 6-10 on the powerplay, and now have the 4th best PP in the nation, converting 27.1% of the time (35 of 129).
The B1G boasts three of the top four offenses nationally, with Penn State (#1, 4.27 GPG), Ohio State (2, 4.14) and Minnesota (4, 3.89) pacing the conference. Wisconsin sits in seventh overall, at 3.62 GPG.
Gopher Multiple Point Getters- Justin Kloos (1G-2A), Tyler Sheehy (1-2), Steve Johnson (0-3), Vinni Lettieri (2-0), Jake Bischoff (1-1).
Tyler Sheehy (17G-24A-41Pts) is now in 8th place nationally in total points. Justin Kloos (14-20-34) sits in 16th place overall, and Vinni Lettieri (15-14-29) is in 36th place.
The Gophers now boast six 10-goal scorers for the season: Sheehy (17), Lettieri (15), Kloos (14), Brent Gates (14), Leon Bristedt (11) and Mike Szmatula (10).
Freshman forward Rem Pitlick did not play in the third period of Saturday’s game. Ryan Norman took Pitlick’s place on the powerplay and on the top line. No word on whether he will be out an extended period of time.