January 13th, 2023: Mason Nevers and Mike Koster each got their first goals of the year in what was their first home sweep of the season for the Gophers.
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Minneapolis, Minn – In what was their most complete game of the year, the Gophers capped off the sweep over Robert Morris University for their first home sweep of the season and first since February 24-25th against Ohio State last season.
“One of the better games we played start to finish. I liked our energy throughout the whole lineup,” Gophers’ head coach Bob Motzko said. “We just had the one mistake where they scored and then I really liked the third period. Give Robert Morris a lot of credit with what Derek’s doing over there. They get up and down the rink, they can skate, and they competed. I don’t know if we’ll get that many chances and not score, good quality chances, but their young man was awfully good in goal tonight.”
Chad Veltri finished the game with 40 saves after having 53 yesterday. Justen Close was back in goal for the Gophers tonight after Nathan Airey made his season debut yesterday. Close stopped 16 out of the 17 he faced. The only goal he allowed was a result of a 3-on-1 by the Colonials.
It really was the Gophers most complete game of the year. They started hot with a ton of chances, almost too many. The Gophers created a ton of space in the offensive zone and it started with good speed in the neutral zone. Minnesota only had four failed zone entries at 5-on-5 all game.
A lot of this season has been games where the Gophers dominate periods but then start the next period by turning the puck over and playing loose. Which usually ends up putting them down a couple of goals. It was almost like waiting for a turnover to happen that the Colonials would pounce on and score yet that turnover just didn’t happen.
“Yes. Because you guys know we made mistakes in third periods in the first half and when the games were critical. Critical moments, we had leads, ties, and that’s put us in the spot we’re at,” Motzko said. “We need to get that feel going and if we’re healthy and we’re getting everybody back in. You know, knock on wood that we’re gonna start playing our best hockey now.”
Part of getting that good feeling going and getting healthy players in the lineup is getting some of your key players that were on the team last year to get up to speed again. Tonight both Mason Nevers and Mike Koster got their first goals of the season.
“You could just feel the weight leave, even on our bench. It was a like we won the Stanley Cup when those two scored. Our players know what those guys went through with their injuries. And those were monster goals for those two young men to get, they’re gonna have a little swagger, and it’s great time of the year for that to happen to get those guys back on board.”
Nevers got the game’s first goal after he caught a pass from Bryce Brodzinski before ripping one past Veltri’s glove. Koster followed it up with a power-play goal in the second period.
“My eyes lit up,” Nevers said on when he caught the pass from Brodzinski before picking up his first goal of the year. “I missed the breakaway last night so I was kind of just hoping for another opportunity like that and it felt good. Brodzy found me in the perfect spot and had a little bit of an opening on that right side and found it luckily.”
Aaron Huglen, who had a previous goal overturned because it “didn’t cross the goal line” got on the board not long after. Only problem is, he had to wait through another review process. The referee’s said that Brody Lamb was in the crease when Huglen shot it home. Motzko and the Gophers challenged the call and it was later overturned as Lamb was not in the crease when Huglen shot it.
Robert Morris scored just about five minutes later after Sam Rinzel had a chance in the offensive zone. The shot went wide and sparked a 3-on-1 the other way for the Colonials and Walter Zacher knocked home the rebound after George Krotiris’s first shot was stopped by Close.
The Gophers answered in the third period when Jimmy Snuggerud continued his incredible season. It was Snuggerud’s 17th of the season and his sixth goal of the week since the Gophers played last Sunday and Monday against Colorado College. Snuggerud now has six goals and eight points in his last four games and is now tied with Denver’s Jack Devine for the most goals in the NCAA.
Minnesota is back home next weekend to host the Ohio State Buckeyes in hopes of keeping their momentum going. The rest of the season for the Gophers is all Big Ten games, which is huge for Minnesota to rack up some more wins to get themselves in a good spot for the tournament which is in St. Paul this year.