Dylan Duke disappointed after Nelson scores. Photo by Craig Cotner.
Dylan Duke disappointed after Nelson scores. Photo by Craig Cotner.

Gophers Shake Off Early Rust, Dominate Wolverines 6-2 Friday

Minneapolis, MN – After enduring some first-period rust, the Minnesota Gophers (20–8-5 Overall (4-0 OT), 10-6-3-4 B1G 40 Pts) poured it on the Michigan Wolverines (17-13-3 (0-1), 10-10-1-2 34 Pts), scoring four unanswered goals in the second and third to win 6-2 and clinch third place in the Big Ten conference. Jaxon Nelson tallied a hat trick, while Oliver Moore added two goals of his own and Bryce Brodzinski recorded three assists on the night.

The Gophers will host Penn State in the first round of the Big Ten tournament.

The teams scored two goals a piece in the first, with Rutger McGroarty putting Michigan up 1-0 4:11 into the first. Luke Mittelstadt answered with his first of the season at 12:28 of the period, after Nelson had knocked a Michigan player into the Wolverine net.

Nalson gave the Gophers their first lead of the evening at 15:23 of the first, when he poked a Mason Nevers fanned shot past Michigan goalie Jake Barczewski. Andover native Garret Schifsky tied it 2-2 in the final minute of the first on a bad Brodzinski turnover at the blueline.

The second and third were all Minnesota, as the Gophers slowly chipped away at Michigan, piling quality shifts one after another to generate scoring chances. Minnesota scored three goals in the period, all on the power play: Oliver Moore scored at 8:16, Jaxon Nelson scored at 14:30, and Moore scored again at 17:07.

The Gophers seemed content to salt the game away in the third with a 5-2 lead, but Nelson picked off a pass at the blueline and beat new Michigan goalie Noah West low glove for his third goal of the night and 12th of the season.

Snuggerud takes on in the Jimmy from Michigans Steven Holtz Photo by Craig Cotner
Snuggerud takes on in the “Jimmy” from Michigan’s Steven Holtz. Photo by Craig Cotner.

The 6-2 win clinched third place in the Big Ten conference for Minnesota, which means the Gophers will host Penn State in the first round of the conference playoffs next weekend. The win (coupled with Quinnipiac and Maine losses, along with other results around the country) moved Minnesota up to #7 in the PairWise Rankings, with the Gophers just a sliver behind #6 Wisconsin following the Badgers’ loss to Michigan State tonight. There are still scenarios where the Gophers earn a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament, but they likely need to win the Big Ten title game (beating UW and MSU along the way) as well as get some help from teams like Denver.

However, first Minnesota faces Michigan again tomorrow night. The 7:30 game is the last regular season game of the year, and is Senior Night for seniors Mason Nevers, Carl Fish, and Mike Koster. A win tomorrow has the Gophers riding high heading into the playoff push.