February 25th, 2023: Gophers sweep the Ohio State Buckeyes and will now look ahead to playoffs after a 25-8-1 regular season record.
–> Follow @Dylanloucks4 on Twitter
Minneapolis, MINN – The 5-2 win over Ohio State was just another hard-fought come-from-behind win for the Gophers this season. The Buckeyes got the game’s first two goals, both on the power play, after Matthew Knies and Jimmy Snuggerud let their emotions out on two big hits.
Hits that resulted in both being five-minute majors. But they probably got away with one being both hits were to the head of the Buckeyes’ players. Those exact plays we have seen this year be called five-minute penalties and game misconducts but tonight Knies and Snuggerud stayed in the game and boy did that pay off.
Knies finished the game with the game-tying goal and set up Cooley’s goal which gave the Gophers the lead and eventually ended as the game-winner. Snuggerud recorded two assists on both of those goals.
One shift before the penalties, Snuggerud got blasted by Tate Singleton up high which resulted in Snuggerud landing on his butt and no penalty being given. Snuggerud was not happy with the call and spent the next minute on the bench barking at the referee.
Their next shift Logan Cooley sized up Jake Wise and blasted him back first into the boards, only 30 seconds later Snuggerud blasted Wise from behind straight into the boards. No more than three seconds later Knies ran straight through Cam Thiesing’s head.
This sent Ohio on the power play. Cole McWard got the Buckeyes on the board with his fifth goal of the year from Wise and Mason Lohrei. The goal came with just three seconds left in the first period.
During intermission, Knies said his apologies to his teammates then went back to business in the second.
“It was a pretty brutal penalty by me and Snuggerud there,” Knies said. “We kind of lost a lot of confidence on the bench so it was nice we could get back five-on-five and get those two quick goals.”
Knies continued: “I knew what had to be said. It wasn’t a good penalty, I had to apologize to the guys and work a little harder for it, kind of get it back for us. I think that’s what we did as a line, we did that really well.”
After Lohrei scored the second Buckeyes’ power play goal, Aaron Huglen notched his fifth of the year in the middle stages of the second period. With the forechecking Rhett Pitlick, Dominic Vidoli coughed up the puck right on Pitlick’s stick who later found Huglen open in the slot to get the Gophers on the board.
Ope you forgot something pic.twitter.com/RgBIXixypn
— Minnesota Men’s Hockey (@GopherHockey) February 25, 2023
Just 13 seconds later Cooley chipped a puck ahead for Snuggerud who came blazing in on the right side and ripped one off the pad of Jakub Dobes. The rebound fell right on the stick of Knies who was crashing the net hard.
This was Knies’ 21st goal of the year and his eighth goal in his last ten games. In that span, Knies has seven assists for 15 points. That was Snuggerud’s ninth assist in his last ten games and his 17th point.
Cooley closed out the second period with a remarkable goal of his own on a play you couldn’t think could look any prettier. Snuggerud fought off Matt Cassidy behind the net and sent one to the slot for Knies.
Everyone in the arena thought Knies was going to shoot it, but instead, he dropped the puck between his legs for Cooley who chipped one over the glove of Dobes with just 33 seconds remaining in the second period.
It's on the floor. pic.twitter.com/AZct1kypWC
— Minnesota Men’s Hockey (@GopherHockey) February 26, 2023
“He was actually,” Knies said when asked if Cooley was barking at him to drop the puck off. “He was yelling pretty hard so I knew I had to get it there.”
Over halfway gone in the third period Bryce Brodzinski read the play perfectly and intercepted a pass at the blue line. The senior forward on a senior night, came rushing in with a Buckeye defender on his back and ripped a backhand shot past Dobes giving the Gophers a 4-2 lead.
Three minutes later with the goalie pulled, Ryan Johnson picked up another empty net goal with an impressive display of patience in the defensive zone. Out of the five goals in the game, two of them came from seniors on a night when the Gophers celebrated seniors.
“That’s a really special group,” Gophers head coach Bob Motzko said on the seniors. “They all have a great story to tell inside that room. We are a really close group and it starts with that senior class.”
The Gophers will have next weekend off with their bye during the Big Ten playoffs but will be heading to Rochester for an inter-squad scrimmage. They will await their opponent and see how the games turn out but they will be back at home at 3M Arena at Mariucci for the semifinals on March 11th.