Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.



Rookie's hat trick powers Gophers past Mavericks in round one of their in-state showdown

Jimmy Snuggerud scored his first three collegiate goals, and goalie Justen Close held Minnesota State Mankato at bay for much of the night as the Gophers won 4-1 on Friday

Flanked by Ryan Chesley (right) and Rhett Pitlick (left), Minnesota forward Jimmy Snuggerud celebrated his first collegiate goal in the opening period of the Gophers win over Minnesota State Mankato on Friday, October 7, 2022 at 3M Arena at Mariucci in Minneapolis.
Brad Rempel / University of Minnesota Athletics

MINNEAPOLIS — Jimmy Snuggerud is not going to be anyone’s third wheel on the Minnesota Gophers dynamic line of young guns. After linemates Logan Cooley and Rhett Pitlick got the biggest share of accolades and attention last weekend, Snuggerud figured it was time to introduce himself to the Gophers fan base.

Snuggerud scored his first three collegiate goals, and goalie Justen Close held Minnesota State Mankato at bay for much of the night as the Gophers won 4-1 on Friday in the opener of a two-game home-and-home series between these in-state rivals.

Close, who has started 21 of the Gophers’ past 22 games, had 18 saves in the win. Cooley was named the Big Ten’s top star of the week last week, and Pitlick drew raves for his passing, while Snuggerud didn’t score in his first two college games. That changed, with an exclamation point, on Friday.

“He was frustrated last week. He didn’t get one last week, so I told him frustration is like a bad date. You’ve got to get out of it and start a new day,” Gophers coach Bob Motzko said. “And boy he came through tonight. He can shoot a hockey puck.”

The Mavericks got 21 saves from goalie Keenan Rancier — one of three men in the mix to fill the role of Hobey Baker Award winner Dryden McKay, who led the Mavericks to the NCAA title game last spring. They got a goal from defenseman Jake Livingstone in the third period, but could not match Snuggerud’s offense. MSU briefly appeared to have scored in the second period, but the goal was disallowed after a review.


“I thought for a guy that’s got the experience that he’s got, that he did a good job tonight,” said Mavericks coach Mike Hastings of Rancier, who was making his second career start.

Snuggerud, a third-generation Gopher whose father, Dave, was a star in the late 1980s and later played in the NHL, got his first of the game late in a tightly played first period, cashing in during a scramble in front of the Mavericks net.

“It was definitely surreal, watching games here growing up and hearing the crowd chant, to have that happen was really fun,” Snuggerud said.

Early in the second, Snuggerud doubled the home team’s lead, slapping home the rebound of a Ryan Johnson shot after Rancier had made the initial save. His third came on a rocket of a slap shot from the blue line in the third period, with the Gophers on a power play.

“I saw maybe a little bit of the top right open and just shot through,” he said.

A freshman from Chaska, Minnesota, Snuggerud was a first-round draft pick of the St. Louis Blues over the summer.

Another freshman, Connor Kurth, added an empty net goal with just over two minutes on the clock.

Minnesota forward Logan Cooley leaned into a slap shot in the opening period of the Gophers win over Minnesota State Mankato on Friday, October 7, 2022 at 3M Arena at Mariucci in Minneapolis.
Brad Rempel / University of Minnesota Athetics


Pretend it never happened

For a minute, it looked like defenseman Akito Hirose had scored the Mavericks’ first goal of the season. Near the midway point of the second period, MSU forward Lucas Sowder took away Close’s eyes while Hirose popped a rising shot over the Gophers goalie’s left shoulder.

But while the sizable contingent of southern Minnesota hockey fans cheered, the Gophers coaches asked referees Tony Czech and Brian Aaron to take a closer look. After a relatively lengthy review, they determined that Sowder’s presence in the crease, and perhaps some contact with Close before the puck went in, constituted goalie interference, and the point came off the scoreboard.

“My guess, with the way video is right now, they don’t get many wrong, so I’m assuming they made the right call,” Hastings said. “It’s hockey. You get some that go your way and some that don’t. We’ve all been around it enough years that when you’re on the road, you assume that’s not going to go your way.”

Mozko said the Gophers coaches knew from the way that Close reacted that there was interference and asked for the review immediately.

“Right away we knew, you could see Closer shake and that was a no-brainer. We called it even before we got word from up top,” said the Gophers coach.

Of note, playing games at 3M Arena at Mariucci is nothing new for the Hirose family. Akito’s older brother Taro was named player of the year in the Big Ten in 2019 after a standout junior season at Michigan State.

Weathering the storm

The Mavericks had ended the Gophers’ past two seasons in the NCAA tournament, and looked like the alpha dogs early on in the contest on Friday. With a large crowd of students on hand behind Rancier, MSU didn’t give them much to cheer about, keeping pucks away from their own net and testing Close often.

Motzko said enduring that push by the visitors and keeping them from grabbing the early momentum was a key.


“We weathered the first 10 minutes,” Motzko said, tipping his cap to Hastings’ club. “That’s a good hockey team and well-coached. We knew what we were going to see but we weathered it and then we dug in.”

In an unexpected move, the two-time national champion player will not be back with the U of M after two seasons working for head coach Brad Frost and helping her alma mater to the Frozen Four.
With much of his offense returning, we expect coach Bob Motzko will add three forwards, three defensemen and a goalie to a roster that was within a few minutes of winning the NCAA title in April.
After leading the Gophers offensively in his final college season, some thought NHL success was inevitable for the Finnish forward. After battling injuries in the AHL, he is back in Europe.
Larson has international experience from his stint as an Olympic assistant coach in 2022, while Miller will be working his seventh World Juniors for Team USA, and looking for his third gold medal.
A prep state champion as a sophomore, Begley spent parts of the last two seasons in the NAHL, most recently with the Wisconsin Windigo where he was the team's top-scoring defenseman.
Starting next season, men's and women's season-ticket holders for the Minnesota Gophers will be able to return seats they cannot use and get credit for future season ticket purchases.
The defenseman originally from southern California was a four-year regular on the U of M blue line, and a first-round pick of Buffalo in 2019.
Transfers from St. Lawrence, Princeton and UMD will help bolster the Gophers on the back end next season as they try to find a way back to the Frozen Four and repeat as WCHA tourney champs.
The Minnesota Gophers center led the team in scoring on the way to a Big Ten title and a trip to the NCAA title game, and recently announced he will return for a sophomore college hockey season.
Fargo native Trent Wiemken has gone 8-1-1 in the Robertson Cup playoffs as the mainstay goalie for the Austin Bruins playoffs while working with former Minnesota Gophers goalie Nick Lehr's coaching.
The former Minnesota Mr. Hockey winner is coming off a senior campaign where he notched career highs in goals and points while playing right wing on the Gophers' second line much of the season.
When the vote to build a new Arizona Coyotes rink in Tempe failed, a big piece of their future decided that NHL hockey can wait another year, and Logan Cooley announced his return to the U of M.

Most notably, Motzko praised his veteran defensemen for keeping things calm around Close and starting the offense on many shifts. Ryan Johnson was the second star of the night with three assists.

“There’s a first-rounder that comes back for his senior year. Great skater, he can play all minutes. Nothing phases him,” Motzko said of Johnson, who was picked by the Buffalo Sabres in the opening round of the 2019 draft and considered signing over the summer before returning for a fourth season with the Gophers.

Johnson, an alternate captain wore a purple tie after the game. Asked if it was a nod to his opponents for the weekend, Johnson smiled and gave a one-word answer: “Style.”

“They came out really fast, and came out hard,” Johnson said. “All our young guys really stepped up tonight when they hadn’t seen that before. We responded really well.”

The packed student section on hand for the Minnesota Gophers 4-1 win over Minnesota State Mankato erupted after Jimmy Snuggerud's first of three goals on Friday, October 7, 2022 at 3M Arena at Mariucci in Minneapolis.
Brad Rempel / University of Minnesota Athletics

Extra pucks

The home-and-home series with MSU concludes on Saturday evening with a 6 p.m. CT puck drop at the Mayo Clinic Health Systems Event Center in Mankato. It will be the Gophers’ first game in Mankato since Nov. 3, 2018, a 2-1 win by the Mavericks.

The game was delayed for a few minutes early in the third period after the net occupied by Close came off the moorings on consecutive shifts. An arena staffer drilled deeper holes in the ice to better secure the goal.


Healthy scratches for Friday’s game for the Gophers were defensemen Matt Staudacher and Carl Fish and forwards Colin Schmidt and John Mittelstadt.

Minnesota 4, Minnesota State 1

Minnesota 1-1-2—4

Minn State 0-0-1—1

First period — 1. MIN, Jimmy Snuggerud 1 (Logan Cooley, Ryan Johnson), 18:21. Penalties — None.

Second period — 2. MIN, Snuggerud 2 (Johnson, Jaxon Nelson), 5:30. Penalties — Cade Borchardt, MSU (tripping), 0:32; Mason Nevers, MIN (tripping), 19:12.

Third period — 3. MSU, Jake Livingstone 1 (David Silye, Akito Hirose), 4:00. 4. MIN, Snuggerud 3 (Jackson LaCombe, Nevers), 10:46, (PP). 5. MIN, Connor Kurth 2 (Johnson), 17:56, (EN). Penalties — Brock Faber, MIN (cross checking), 6:53; Josh Groll, MSU (hooking), 10:33; Sam Morton, MSU (hooking), 11:27.

Shots on goal — MIN 7-11-7—25; MSU 7-4-8—19. Goalies — Justen Close, MIN (19 shots-18 saves); Keenan Rancier, MSU (25-21). Power plays — MIN 1-of-3, MSU 0-of-2. Referees — Tony Czech, Brian Aaron. Linesmen — Nicholas Bradshaw, Jonathan Morrison. Att. — 8,472.

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.
What to read next
A fixture in the Motor City for decades, college hockey's most renowned holiday tournament seems to have found a home in Grand Rapids, Mich., with the announcement of the next four GLI fields.
Todd Inkrott and new Badgers hockey coach Mike Hastings had worked together for more than a decade at MSU Mankato. He becomes the latest former Mavs staffer to follow the coach east.
Keith Paulsen has been the video coach for the Minnesota Wild's top affiliate in Iowa since 2016.
Toledo, Ohio, native has a 3.81 GPA majoring in sports management with a marketing minor.
Get Local