November 17th, 2022: Gophers d-core steps up in the 5-2 win over the Michigan Wolverines with seven combined points and 14 shots.
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The 302nd all-time game between the Gophers and Wolverines was a bit different. November has been a month where sickness has affected many teams, specifically Michigan. For tonight’s game the Wolverines were playing 11 forwards, one of which is usually their third-string goalie.
For the Gophers they were only without sophomore forward Aaron Huglen and senior goaltender Justen Close. So, sophomore Owen Bartoszkiewicz stepped in and stopped 29 out of the 31 he faced.
“We wanted to give Justen Close an extra day off,” Gophers head coach Bob Motzko said on the pregame radio show. “We’re excited for Bartoszkiewicz to get back in there. He’s going to be a good goalie, we just have to give him minutes and this is a good opportunity.”
Michigan came into the game without six of their regulars. Nolan Moyle, Tj Hughes, Jacob Truscott, Steven Holtz, and their prized freshman sensation Adam Fantilli. The projected top-three overall pick in the upcoming draft leads the country in points with 23 in just 12 games.
All the absences provided players with great opportunities to step up and receive more ice time. In the first four minutes, the Gophers outshot the Wolverines four to zero. On their fifth shot, Rhett Pitlick notched his second goal of the year just five minutes and 41 seconds into the game.
Where momma hides the cookies! 🍪 pic.twitter.com/UvT30FaGVR
— Minnesota Men’s Hockey (@GopherHockey) November 17, 2022
Luke Mittelstadt came into this game with zero penalty minutes in all 12 of the games he played. He took his first penalty at around the halfway mark in the first. The Gophers proceed to record two shots while also allowing two. But with four minutes left in the first Mittelstadt took another penalty in front of Bartoszkiewicz.
He was called for holding despite keeping two hands on his stick in front of the net. A controversial call had Motzko steaming on the bench.
Michigan came into the game with the country’s second-best power play, converting a little over 33 percent of the time. Without their top power play guy in Fantilli, the sophomore forward Dylan Duke stepped up. Duke received a remarkable pass from Rutger McGroarty who caught one from Seamus Casey. The definition of tic-tac-toe.
Just over five minutes into the second period, Philippe Lapointe went to the box for tripping. This sent the Gophers to their first power play of the game. 50 seconds later Eric Ciccolini came in on a shorthanded breakaway but took a massive hit after his shot by Logan Cooley.
Cooley received a five-minute major, his second of the season, ending the Gophers’ power play. 42 seconds later Pitlick got his second of the game on a back-door feed by Mike Koster. Luke Mittelstadt notched his second assist of the game and his seventh assist of the season.
With Cooley’s five-minute major still being served Dylan Duke ripped home his second of the game from Casey and Luke Hughes. The Wolverines have gotten 50 percent of their points from their freshmen and 33 percent from their sophomores. Duke raised that total a bit with Michigans only two goals of the night.
Batting practice went well this week 😉 pic.twitter.com/IRAfQ1Dpyf
— Michigan Hockey (@umichhockey) November 18, 2022
Before the game, Motzko said on the radio show this will be a good opportunity for Pitlick to get a little more ice time. Pitlick started the year on the first line but last weekend saw himself on the fourth line and received zero minutes of ice time in Friday’s third period.
Safe to say he definitely enjoyed the opportunity of more ice time with two goals and five shots.
“It definitely felt good to get those two in the net,” Pitlick said. “I thought our team did amazing, all of them helped me out. There’s a lot of confidence going around and chemistry but kudos to them.”
Jackson Hallum took a hooking penalty with 59 seconds left in the second period which sent the Gophers to the Power Play. They would start the third period with a minute and one second of power play time. That was until Michigan was late on the ice to start the period.
They received a penalty and gave the Gophers a five-on-three power play for about a minute. 38 seconds later Cooley notched his fourth of the year from Bryce Brodzinski and LaCombe. Brodzinski now has five points in his last four games. LaCombe, who started the year with a point in nine straight games, ended his three-game pointless streak. With two assists tonight, LaCombe has ten assists and 13 points in 13 games.
Just a hair under five minutes later, Luke Mittelstadt unloaded on an absolute bomb and made it 5-2. It was his first goal of the year and third point of the night. Koster picked up his second assist of the game and seventh point of the year. Snuggerud picked up the secondary assist which was his 14th point of the year.
.@lmittelstadt16's first of his career almost went through the net!
WHAT. A. BOMB. pic.twitter.com/IZfgjm785T
— Minnesota Men’s Hockey (@GopherHockey) November 18, 2022
Bartoszkiewicz notched his first career Big Ten win while stopping 29 out of the 31 shots he faced.
“Bartoszkiewicz was outstanding in net for us tonight,” Motzko said
Pitlick added: “It’s interesting to see how things unravel and all of a sudden he’s in that spot. But he gets a big win in his home state and glad to see him prosper.”
The Gophers will face off against the Wolverines tomorrow at 5:00 pm central time. For Michigan, they threw out 18 skaters one of which was a third-string goalie. They also lost Eric Ciccolini to an injury that happened in the second period. So they might be down to 16 healthy skaters tomorrow, as Shea’s only shift lasted two seconds with him skating from the box to the bench.