April 7h, 2022: Gophers magical season came to an end against Minnesota State on Thursday night following the 5-1 loss. Matthew Knies picked up the lone goal for the Gophers
–> Follow @Dylanloucks4 on Twitter
The Gophers’ season comes to an end following the 5-1 loss. Under head coach Bob Motzko the Gophers finished with a record of 28-13-0. The loss on Thursday night was the second straight year that the Mavericks ended the Gophers season.
“We had a terrific season and a terrific team,” said Motzko. “We just ran into a real good team.”
Matthew Knies got things going for the Gophers off a mistake by the Mavericks in the neutral zone. Bryce Brodzinski picked up the puck and sent one over to Knies in the offensive zone, creating a 2-on-0 chance. Knies sent it back to Brodzinski who sent it back door to Knies who finished. Knies notched his third straight playoff goal and his eighth point in his last seven games.
— Minnesota Men’s Hockey (@GopherHockey) April 8, 2022
Minnesota State, who have never appeared in the national championship in their program history, will face off against the Denver Pioneers on Saturday for the Championship. The Mavericks play a tightly contested hockey game and run a 1-3-1 forecheck, which seemed the Gophers played right into. Whether the ‘wraparound’ was in MSU’s game plan or not, it got them on the board and eventually gave them the lead.
Minnesota State got on the board in the second period after Benton Maass pulled off the wraparound to the right of Gophers goaltender Justen Close, who finished with 26 saves. Maass carried the puck around the net where he tucked it in far-side on Close. About six minutes later Reggie Lutz did the same but on the opposite side.
The Gophers pressured the Mavericks late in the second but ultimately walked into intermission down by one. Unfortunately for the Gophers, Minnesota State was 30-0-0 when leading after two periods this season. There was just a hair under two minutes played in the third before Jack McNeely’s point shot was redirected in off a great tip by Pavel Ondrej making it 3-1.
“For chunks of the game Minnesota State kicked out butts,” Motzko said. “We kind of withstood it. Then we made a couple of mistakes in the second period and we were chasing the game.”
David Silye scored his eighth of the year giving MSU the 4-1 lead. Silye’s goal along with MSU holding the Gophers to only six third-period shots became the final blow. Brandon Furry eventually netted an empty-net goal with 1:08 left on the clock. That goal remained the last as Minnesota State used five different goal scorers in the win.
What’s next for the Gophers
It will be an interesting next couple of days for the Gophers with what the future holds for players like Ryan Johnson, Brock Faber, Jackson LaCombe, Matthew Knies, Bryce Brodzinski, and Ben Meyers. But most importantly what’s in store for the Gophers seniors on the team like Grant Cruikshank, Ben Brinkman, Matt Denman, Sammy Walker, and Blake McLaughlin.
Ben Meyers is an undrafted college free agent and is allowed to sign with any NHL team since the Gophers season is over. As we know, Meyers is a highly coveted free agent and any NHL team would be happy to have him under control. McLaughlin is an Anaheim Ducks prospect who could very well sign with the Ducks to finish the year in the pros or head to San Diego to play for the Gulls of the AHL. Walker is a Tampa Bay Lightning prospect and senior who has spent all four years here in the marron and gold playing 144 games.
Faber, Johnson, and LaCombe are top-of-the-line defenders and some of the best college defenders in the game. Johnson was the Buffalo Sabres’ 2019 first-round selection and as a current Junior in college, he could very well sign with the Sabres. Faber is a Sophomore who was taken in the second-round of the 2020 draft by the Los Angles Kings. Faber’s game is likely ready to be seen in the AHL for the Ontario Reign but Brock may return for his Junior year with the Gophers. LaCombe is also an Anaheim Ducks prospect drafted by the Ducks in the 2019 draft at 39th overall. As a Junior LaCombe could elect to skip out on his senior year and turn pro with the Ducks.
Gophers may see a bit of roster turnover with guys out the door but they will also welcome one of the best recruiting classes in college hockey with Cruz Lucius, Ryan Chelsey, Logan Cooley, Jimmy Snuggerud, Luke Middelstadt, and Charlie Strobel to name some.