Minnesota Starts 4-0 for 1st Time Since 14-15
Minneapolis, MN – Normally, Gopher fans have to wait a whole week to see their team take the ice again.
2020 has disrupted everything, included the beloved Friday-Saturday cadence of college hockey.
The Minnesota Gophers (4-0-0-0 B1G, 4-0-0 Overall) hosted the Ohio State Buckeyes (0-2-0-0, 0-2-0) in a rare Monday-Tuesday series, just a few days after Minnesota swept Penn State to open the 2020-2021 campaign. The Gophers swept to remain unbeaten, dominating 4-1 on Monday night before hanging on for a 2-0 win as fatigue set in late in the game Tuesday.
It was the Buckeyes that got off to a good start on Monday, jumping on the Gophers in the first minute with a quick shot on goal and another shot off the post.
Normally, an opponent’s SOG in the first minute wouldn’t be noteworthy, but in this case it would be Ohio State’s only shot on goal for about 25 minutes.
Minnesota took control of the game following the early Buckeye flurry, with Brock Faber and Sammy Walker scoring throughout the first period to put the Gophers up 2-0 heading to the first intermission.
The teams traded goals in the second, with OSU’s Gustaf Westlund scoring what would be the Buckeyes’ only goal of the weekend at 12:56 before Bryce Brodzinski scored on the powerplay at 15:54 to put the Gophers back up by two going into the third.
Minnesota took a couple of penalties in the final 10 minutes of the game, but Ohio State was not able to crack the Gopher penalty kill. Ben Meyers added an empty net goal at 19:04 of the third to round out the scoring in the 4-1 final. Jack LaFontaine made 16 saves on 17 Buckeye shots in the win.
Tuesday night it was the Gophers that got off to a good start, with Scott Reedy putting Minnesota ahead 1-0 just 1:53 into the period on a shot that rolled up OSU goalie Tommy Nappier’s blocker and bounced past him into the net. Reedy was sprung free on a brilliant long pass from Brannon McManus.
The Reedy goal was all there was in the scoring department until halfway through the third period, when Nathan Burke cleaned up a loose puck off of a Ben Meyers rush to put Minnesota up by two at 2-0. Burke’s goal was a big one – Ohio State was clearly the fresher of the two teams, and Minnesota seemed content to clear the puck and complete quick line changes throughout most of the final frame.
With some breathing room, the Gophers were able to ice the game away behind another stellar performance in net by Jack LaFontaine. The senior netminder has played every second of Minnesota’s four games to start the year, going a perfect 4-0 while stopping 98 of 102 shots for the Maroon and Gold. His 1.00 GAA is fourth among all goalies who have played more than one game this year, and his .961 Sv% is third. Bob Motzko has touted his three-headed monster between the pipes of LaFontaine, Jared Moe and Justen Close as perhaps the best goalie threesome in the nation, but it could be hard for either Moe or Close to see the ice if LaFontaine continues to shine in net.
The Gophers currently sit second in the Big Ten standings with 12 points, behind Wisconsin’s 13 (in six games).
Minnesota has a bit of a break after that four-game-in-six-day binge, taking the Thanksgiving week and weekend off before traveling to Michigan the following week. The Gophers will be in East Lansing to battle the Michigan State Spartans Thursday 12/3 and Friday 12/4, and will face off in Ann Arbor against the Michigan Wolverines the following Tuesday 12/8 and Wednesday 12/9.
Freshman Brock Faber’s goal on Friday was the first of his Gopher career.
Through four games, Scott Reedy leads the Gophers with three goals. Sammy Walker is the only other Gopher with multiple goals (two). Brannon McManus leads the team with five points (1G-4A).
Jack Perbix did not suit up for Tuesday’s game against Ohio State. He was replaced in the lineup by extra skater Carl Fish, who played sparingly.