Minneapolis, MN – After a rocky start to the first half of the 2019-2020 season, the Gophers may finally be showing some life.
Minnesota (10-10-4 Overall, 5-5-4-3 B1G) put itself in the discussion for the Big Ten conference title with emphatic 6-3 and 4-1 wins over the sixth-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes (15-8-3, 8-6-2-0).
The biggest issue for the Gophers this season has been scoring goals. That was not the case against typically-stingy Ohio State. Minnesota scored 10 times in two games, the most any team has scored against the Buckeyes a series all season (Penn State scored 8 goals in a split in November).
The Gophers’ second line was the offensive catalyst against the Buckeyes, accounting for seven total goals. Sampo Ranta continues to be the most impressive player on the team, looking like a man among boys every time he touches the ice. Ranta scored three goals on the weekend and set up one more. Ben Meyers pitched in critical goals on both Friday and Saturday, and McManus scored one each on Friday and Saturday as well, assisting on four others to earn six points and the Big Ten’s first star of the week.
The Gophers trailed 1-0 in the first on Friday before Ben Meyers tied it late in the opening frame, and trailed again after an early Ohio State goal in the second. It was all Minnesota from there, as the Gophers reeled off five unanswered goals – two in quick succession in the middle of the second to take the lead, and two more later in the third to seal the game. The Buckeyes scored another late to draw within two, but Ranta scored into the empty net to end the scoring and give the Gophers the 6-3 win.
Minnesota dominated Saturday’s matchup, scoring early in the first on a Bryce Brodzinski effort and never looking back. The Gophers added goals from McManus and Ranta in the second, and though Ohio State’s Carson Meyer scored early in the third to make it interesting, Ben Meyers added his second goal of the weekend just 2:04 after the OSU goal to ice a 4-1 win.
Minnesota next travels to Madison to take on the Badgers. Wisconsin, the second youngest team in college hockey (Minnesota is the youngest), is at the bottom of the B1G conference standings, but has beaten some good teams this season. Let’s see if the Gophers can keep it rolling and extend their three-game winning streak.
Friday’s game is at 7PM on Fox Sports North and Fox Sports Go, while Saturday’s 8PM start is on FSN+.