Jacob Barczewski with a solid effort in a 2-1 Michigan win. Photo by Brad Rempel of Gopher Sports.
Jacob Barczewski with a solid effort in a 2-1 Michigan win. Photo by Brad Rempel of Gopher Sports.

Michigan Beats Gophers 2-1 to Advance to Big Ten Championship

Minneapolis, MN – Behind a dominating effort, the Michigan Wolverines (21-13-3) beat the Minnesota Gophers (22-10-5) 2-1 to make the Big Ten title game. Jimmy Snuggerud scored his 21st goal of the season with the goalie pulled at 18:36 of the third period to make it a game, but at the end it was too little too late for the Gophers, who now await their fate a week from now once the conference championships are decided.

“I didn’t like us for big stretches tonight,” said coach Bob Motzko. “We lost a lot of draws tonight, we didn’t establish a hard enough forecheck and we spent too much time having to defend… I wish I had better things to say.”

Although Minnesota came out with a ton of jump early on, Michigan scored a gift goal 3:12 into the first when a high puck handcuffed Justen Close, and the rebound came out to Kienan Draper, who poked the puck five-hole to give Michigan the 1-0 lead. Michigan put another puck in the net on another Gopher turnover later, but coach Bob Motzko challenged successfully for offsides earlier in the play.

As the period continued to wear on, Michigan took more and more control of the game. By the second period, it was fully in the Wolverines’ hands. Michigan outshot Minnesota 17 to 5 in the middle frame, but Justen Close kept the Wolverines off the board until Gavin Brindley beat Close on a partial break at 18:36.

Michigan went into the second intermission up 2-0, and that’s the way it stayed until 18:31 of the third, when Jimmy Snuggerud scored with the empty net to give Minnesota a glimmer of hope at 2-1. However, the Gophers couldn’t beat Michigan goalie Jake Barczewski again, and Michigan won 2-1 to advance to the Big Ten championship game. They’ll face Michigan State for the crown.

Minnesota now awaits their fate in the NCAA tournament. The Gophers are currently 8th in the Pairwise rankings, but results next weekend will have significant influence on where all the teams end up. If Minnesota hopes to take advantage of their tournament bid, then they’ll have to remember what’s made them a dangerous team this season.

“I think our game is try to trap people and create chances off turnovers,” said Bryce Brodzinski. “We were kind of looking for our cookies a lot and not really playing defense to get offense. We were trying to cheat offense and kind of hope it went our way. It’s a simple game, sorting out in the d zone who has got who.”

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