Irish defenseman and two Gophers honored with Big Ten weekly awards
The secondary was primary in the final weekend of the regular season as the Big Ten honored a goalie and two defensemen with its weekly three stars.
MINNEAPOLIS – “Don’t be sad,” sang the 1970s sensation Meatloaf. “‘Cause two out of three ain't bad.” That is a mantra that the Minnesota Gophers can adopt for a second consecutive week, as players in maroon and gold claimed two-thirds of the Big Ten’s three stars of the week, again.
Notre Dame junior defenseman Drew Bavaro was named the top star of the week after the Floridian’s overtime goal on Saturday in the regular season’s final game lifted the Irish to a win at Michigan and vaulted them into the conference’s final home ice slot for the playoffs. Not only did Bavaro — who transferred to Notre Dame from Bentley — score both of his team’s goals in their finale, he assisted on two Irish goals in a 3-3 tie with the Wolverines in the series opener.
⭐️ Wrapped up the regular season with First Star honors. Congrats, @BavaroDrew!— Notre Dame Hockey (@NDHockey) February 28, 2023
🔗 https://t.co/KHs47kHtiC#GoIrish pic.twitter.com/68TLjrSy6o
Gophers defenseman Mike Koster was the offensive star on Friday in his team’s 4-0 blanking of Ohio State in their series opener. A junior from Chaska, Minn., Koster scored two goals and assisted on the team’s two other goals, and was named the conference’s second star of the week. It was the first time in Koster’s career that he has been honored by the Big Ten.
“I’m just out there with great players,” Koster said after his four-point night. “We were lucky enough to get a few big power plays at the right time. I’m just trying to put pucks on net and not try to make it too complicated.”
Justen Close, a senior goalie from Saskatchewan, recorded his sixth shutout of the season in that win, and did not allow a 5-on-5 goal in either game, earning third star of the week honors. He leads the Big Ten in shutouts and was honored by the conference for the fourth time this season.
“He’s just even-keeled and strong and we were real strong in front of him,” Gophers coach Bob Motzko said of Close following the Friday win. “There were a handful of times when we needed him and he was right there, calm and cool.”