Garrett Pinoniemi Scores His First Collegiate Goal In A 8-0 Win Over Michigan State

January 27th, 2023: Garrett Pinoniemi completed the two-point conversion as the Gophers scored eight goals against Michigan State. 

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Minneapolis, MINN – Nine seconds. Nine seconds is all it took for Logan Cooley to walk right in and score the game’s first game. A tone setter and the Gophers didn’t look back. They ended the game by blowing out Michigan State 8-0 for their 19th win of the year. 

Eight different Gophers scored a goal tonight with 12 different players recording a point and six players with multiple points. Oh, and Justen Close stopped 21 shots for his fifth shutout of the year and eighth of his career. 

The Gophers have won 14 of their last 15 games against the Spartans and have outscored them 19-3 in their last three games. They now hold a 132-50-16 record against the Spartans all-time.

This isn’t to say Michigan State is a bad team, because they aren’t. Sometimes teams just play better against certain teams or arenas and that can be no knock to the team itself. 

“There are cycles, and we are cycling the right way,” Gophers head coach Bob Motzko said on his team’s success playing Michigan State. “They’ve got a new staff now and are doing a great job. They got to be the one to shake something like this because they have been doing too many good things this year.” 

Cooley won the opening draw, back to Ryan Johnson to start the game. Johnson then fed his defensive partner, Brock Faber who waited a split second before zinging one up the gut for Cooley. The skilled freshman wasted no time and walked right in beating Dylan St. Cyr on the game’s first shot, just nine seconds into the game. 

Jimmy Snuggerud recorded his 14th goal of the year with about three minutes to go in the first period. Johnson caught a pass from Faber and walked into the Spartans’ zone before holding up at the high dot. His feed was put right on the tape of Snuggerud in the slot and that’s a place the freshman sniper doesn’t miss much from. 

“That shot is just Snuggerud’s shot. We all shake our heads when he takes that,” said Motzko. 

Connor Kurth got the Gophers on the board in the second period for his fifth goal of the year. Aaron Huglen entered the zone, forced a play in front of St. Cyr, then got the puck to the point. Mike Koster unloaded on one from the point and with a scramble in front, Kurth banged home his first goal in his last seven games.

Not long after, Matthew Knies and Snuggerud displayed a beautiful case of tic-tac-toe to make it a 4-0 game. Cooley worked along the board before freeing the puck to Knies. The sophomore power forward then fed Snuggerud who immediately passed it back to Knies for his 16th goal of the year. 

But anything you can do I can do better, as Rhett Pitlick and Aaron Huglen tried the same. Pitlick’s initial shot was stopped but the loose puck was pushed to the point where Koster unloaded on another but this time saw the back of the net. 

On the second power play of the game, Jackson LaCombe joined the fun. Just five seconds went by in the man advantage before the Gophers notched their first of two power-play goals on the night. Snuggerud and Cooley picked up the assists on the play. 

That is three goals for LaCombe in his last five games and six points. The senior defender now has seven goals and 26 points in 27 games. 

A hair over one minute later, Aaron Huglen completed the extra point for the Gophers’ seventh goal of the game. It was Huglen’s third goal of the year and second straight game with a goal. Pitlick started the play by headmaning the puck to Huglen. With a burst of speed, Huglen walked into the Spartans’ zone and ripped one past Pierce Charleson top corner. 

But with under four minutes remaining, Garrett Pinoniemi recorded his first collegiate goal on the power play. Brody Lamb fed one to the point for Koster, who fired another shot on net. This time, Pinoniemi tipped it home making it an 8-0 game. 

The youngster was a bit flustered when he sat out last weekend against Michigan but watching the game a different way certainly helped him tonight. 

“I think that needed to happen,” Motzko said on Pinoniemi getting his first goal after being scratched a week ago. “You go in and out of the lineup and think you’re doing something wrong so you take them out of the lineup but then they get ticked off. Ticked off is a good place to be for an athlete.”

Faber added, “It’s awesome with Pino scoring. All the guys love him, he’s the best. It’s fun to see him get on the board.”

It wasn’t just a goal for Pinoniemi tonight that went well. You could tell he looked like a different player. He was hunting for pucks and was trying to force the Spartans off the puck. He even had two controlled zone entries and one controlled zone exit. 

“He’s such a special player,” Koster said on Pinoniemi. “He’s a great kid and one of the best teammates ever. He’s pumped about it but was pretty humble.” 

The Gophers know too well though to continue to play their game during the second game of the series despite what the first game’s outcome was. Michigan State is a good team and is a team that is going to push the Gophers pretty hard tomorrow. Especially when they know they can spoil Hockey Day Minnesota.

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