Gophers Win In Exciting Fashion For Bob Motzko’s 100th Career Win With Minnesota

January 8th, 2022Gophers head coach Bob Motzko dramatically earned career win number 100 as Logan Cooley scored with 18 seconds left in overtime. 

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Minneapolis, MINN – Logan Cooley has played five games in the last seven days, three for Team USA in the 2023 World Juniors and two for the Gophers. Tonight he puts the 300-plus minutes of hockey behind him for one last push with seconds remaining in overtime.

Jimmy Snuggerud, Luke Mittelstadt, and Ryan Chesley have also played five games in the last seven games while over eight Gopher players have been playing through food poisoning. With adversity aside, the Gophers split a series against a grizzled older top-five-ranked team in St. Cloud. 

“It affected our game but it didn’t affect how hard we played, Gophers head coach Bob Motzko said on how his team handled adversity in tonight’s game. “With eight guys down and four guys coming back, our guys just sucked it up. Adversity, you got to handle it and I give our guys a ton of credit.”

Yesterday was a 3-0 loss, essentially 1-0 with the two empty net goals St. Cloud scored, and tonight the Gophers won in a one-score game. The 2-1 win was Bob Motzko’s 100th career win as the Gophers’ head coach. The win comes against the team he started his head coaching days at, St. Cloud, where he spent 13 seasons as the head coach.

The Gophers are now 16-6-0 and are 8-1-1 in their last ten games. Their only other loss in that span was a 6-5 overtime loss in Arizona where the Gophers played one of their worst games, and possibly their worst series of the year. They are 12-1-1 in their last 14 games and have only lost three times in regulation this year.

After being shut out in over 92 straight minutes, Matthew Knies got the Gophers on the board for the game’s first goal. Knies’ goal came on the Gophers second power play of the game and the first of the third period.

Jackson LaCombe and Snuggerud played catch at the top of the blue line before Snuggerud sent one over to his roommate, Logan Cooley, the freshman center then sauced one to Knies in the slot for a tap-in goal. That goal was Knies’ 12th of the season tying Snuggerud for the team lead.

“It was awesome, just to have another comfort level,” Cooley said on having three of his teammates join him for the World Juniors. “I got to room with Snuggerud so it was nice to have him there and go through that experience with him.”

The Gophers got another power play about five minutes later but as time expired on the man advantage, St. Cloud scored on a three-on-one. Brendan Bushy got the slashing penalty but later received a pass from Dylan Anhorn from out of the box and sent one over to Chase Brand who notched his second goal of the year.

The Gophers had 12 underclassmen playing in tonight’s game, nine of which were forwards. St. Cloud had five underclassmen, three of which were forwards. So this was a great series for the Gophers to play in. To play this tight of a defensive game after the halfway mark of the season can only prepare a team for what’s ahead in the playoffs.

Playing smart down the stretch starts with your leaders and that’s exactly what Gophers’ captain Brock Faber did tonight. Faber had 14 controlled exits on 14 attempts and had four controlled zone entries on five attempts. He had two shot assists which carried an expected goals total of .776. He had multiple huge defensive breakups and offensive plays to keep the Gophers in it.

“Faber was a beast tonight,” said Motzko on his captain. “He may have been the best player on the rink.” He made the play in the defensive zone and stays on top of the puck, breaks it up, and then Cooley is gonna do what only a guy like Cooley can do.”

Ryan Johnson completed six controlled zone exits on seven attempts and shut down play every time the Huskies came at him. Justen Close stopped 21 out of the 22 shots he faced tonight earning himself his 13th win of the year. He is now 13-6-0 with a 2.08 goals-against average and a .919 save percentage.

Cooley’s overtime game-winner doesn’t happen without the play from Brock Faber. The Junior captain broke up a two-on-two by stripping the puck from Veeti Miettinen, the Maple Leafs 2020 sixth-round selection, then he rushed up the ice, dropping it off to Cooley. Faber then rushes in to make the Huskies scramble and watches Cooley send Gopher fans home happy.

“I couldn’t even feel my legs so I wanted to finish it,” said Cooley on his game-winning goal. “It was a great play defensive play by Faber who got it up to me. I saw a defender slide on his knees so I took it over and luckily it went in.”

The Gophers will head to Notre Dame next weekend for a 6:00 pm start on Friday and a 5:00 pm start on Saturday before hosting both Michigan and Michigan State to end the month of January.

For Cooley and Snuggerud, Motzko said he will be locking up their gear so they can take a little break before Notre Dame. Cooley joked he might go into hibernation tonight and will sleep very well after the win with his five games played in seven days.

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