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Gophers avoid hitting panic button, rally for split at Ohio State

Stung by their first Big Ten loss of the season, the Minnesota Gophers responded with an efficient, dominant performance to split their series at Ohio State.

Minnesota Gophers freshman forward John Mittelstadt kept close watch on the puck carried by Ohio State defenseman Dominic Vidoli during their game on Saturday, October 29, 2022 at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus, Ohio.
Contributed / Ohio State Athletics

COLUMBUS, Ohio – After their opening act on the season-long road show was a bomb, there was no panic, no extraordinary measures, no major ravamping of the lines for the Minnesota Gophers.

They are a team blessed with talent, and gaining experience. Their response, in a 4-2 win at Ohio State on Saturday night, was one of quiet efficiency.

"We went to work tonight," Gophers coach Bob Motzko said. "It wasn't all pretty early, but we hung in there, we kept with it, then you get rewarded."

Jimmy Snuggerud had a goal and two assists, and Jackson LaCombe scored his third goal in as many games. The Gophers got contributions up and down the line chart to salvage a split of their two-game weekend Big Ten series. Justen Close had 20 saves for the Gophers (5-3-0 overall, 1-1-0 Big Ten) who never trailed in the game.

LaCombe opened the scoring in the first, and other than two hiccups that allowed Ohio State to get on the board via Davis Burnside shorthanded goals, this was a dominant performance by the visitors.


They took control in the second period with Mason Nevers and Matthew Knies scoring to open up a 3-1 lead. Minnesota led 4-1 in the third and appeared to get a fifth goal but the Buckeyes challenged the play. After a review, it was determined that the Gophers had entered the zone offside.

Ohio State (7-2-1, 3-1-0) got 28 saves from goalie Jakub Dobes in the loss.
"It's amazing," Motzko said, referring to their lack of energy in a 6-5 loss on Friday. "You start bending your knees and you play better hockey.

Rapid recovery

In this post-COVID era, teams are rightfully extra cautious about the potential for illness spreading throughout a locker room. So when LaCombe didn't feel well last week, the Gophers kept him away from the team and from the rink.

The absence seemed to have no ill effects on his game this weekend, as LaCombe' solid defensive play and offensive contributions continued.

"He was out of practice all week and that showed a little bit. He's healthy now but we've got to get him some more ice time," Motzko said. "He's playing with confidence and he's capable of doing that. Highly talented."

LaCombe, a second round draft pick of the Anaheim Ducks, is one of three Gophers defensemen who turned down pro hockey for one more season in college.

"It's kind of a team effort that's helping me out," LaCombe said of the recent offensive production. "So many guys are in the right spots and making plays to me that it kind of worlks out great. Kinda shooting more than I used to is definitely helping me."


Extra pucks

  • Healthy scratches from the Gophers lineup on Saturday were forward Connor Kurth and defenseman Matt Staudacher. Two Gophers were left back in Minneapolis due to Big Ten restrictions on how many players can travel.
  • The Gophers continue Big Ten play next weekend with Notre Dame coming to 3M Arena at Mariucci for a pair of games.

Minnesota 4, Ohio State 2

Minnesota 1-2-1β€”4

Ohio State 1-0-1β€”2

First period β€” 1. MN, Jackson LaCombe 3 (Brock Faber, Jimmy Snuggerud), 11:40. 2. OS, Davis Burnside 3 (unassisted), 12:37, (SH). Penalties β€” Bryce Brodzinski, MN (roughing), 0:57; Cam Thiesing, OS (high sticking), 11:40; Burnside, OS (hooking), 15:39; Rhett Pitlick, MN (hooking), 16:50.

Second period β€” 3. MN, Mason Nevers 3 (Jaxon Nelson, Bryce Brodzinski), 15:38. 4. MN, Matthew Knies 5 (Snuggerud, Luke Mittelstadt), 16:41. Penalties β€” Tate Singleton, OS (tripping), 3:13; Brodzinski, MN (slashing), 3:53; Thiesing, OS (elbowing), 8:51; Thiesing, OS (holding), 12:07.

Third period β€” 5. MN, Snuggerud 6 (LaCombe, Logan Cooley), 9:09, (PP). 6. OS, Burnside 4 (Jake Wise, James Marooney), 18:23, (SH). Penalties β€” Pitlick, MN (interference), 2:39; mason Lohrei, OS (hooking), 8:29; Thiesing, OS (tripping), 11:36; Joe Dunlap, OS (5 & game misconduct – kneeing), 14:33.

Shots on goal β€” MN 12-10-10β€”32; OS 9-5-8β€”22. Goalies β€” Justen Close, MN (22 shots-20 saves); Jakub Dobes, OS (32-28). Power plays β€” MN 1-of-8, OS 0-of-4. Referees β€” Andrew Bruggeman, Brett DesRosiers. Linesmen β€” Sam Shikowsky, Nicholas Bradshaw. Att. β€” 3,336.

Jess Myers covers college hockey, as well as outdoors, general sports and travel, for The Rink Live and the Forum Communications family of publications. He came to FCC in 2018 after three decades of covering sports as a freelancer for a variety of publications, while working full time in politics and media relations. A native of Warroad, Minn. (the real Hockeytown USA), Myers has a degree in journalism/communications from the University of Minnesota Duluth. He lives in the Twin Cities. Contact Jess via email at jrmyers@forumcomm.com, or find him on Twitter via @JessRMyers. English speaker.
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