Jackson LaCombe And Matthew Knies Do It Again As The Gophers Beat Michigan In Overtime

January 20th, 2023: Jackson LaCombe does it again for the second Friday in a row, this time the Gophers win it in overtime as Matthew Knies scores with 8.8 seconds left.

–> Follow @Dylanloucks4 on Twitter

Minneapolis, MINN – Jackson LaCombe and Brock Faber were recently put up for Hobey Baker nomination, tonight they both showed why they were as the Gophers complete the comeback over Michigan in overtime. 

Tonight is a story with many leads, like how Mason Nevers played tonight and how he continues to play. How Matthew Knies scored to give the Gophers the lead in the second then later scored the overtime winner with 8.8 seconds left. Or how Colin Schmidt and Carl Fish jumped into the lineup in a big series against Michigan and played very well. Lastly, how LaCombe has tied it late in the third period to force overtime two Fridays in a row. 

But the way LaCombe and Faber have been playing this year is almost ridiculous. It’s almost like NHL defenders playing against college hockey players. Tonight, Faber led all defenders in controlled zone exits and even added three shot assists, which was tied with Jaxon Nelson with the most in the game.

LaCombe has now scored in two straight Fridays to force overtime but this time the Gophers capitalize, thanks to LaCombe and Knies again. 

Despite being outshot in overtime for the first three minutes, the Gophers got their break when Jackson Hallum went to the box for hooking with a hair over two minutes remaining in overtime. Four-on-three powerplays are not something that happens too often but the Gophers were able to capitalize on it. 

“We practiced the four-on-three right there during the timeout,” Gophers head coach Bob Motzko said. “It took a puck off a shinpad to come to us. You don’t see it too often but I should take note of that.”

Knies added: “The last time I remember a four-on-three was when Ben Meyers scored in overtime against Michigan last year. That’s the last I remember.”

LaCombe is an offensive-minded defenseman so when he gets the puck you know a scoring chance will likely come of it. The plan is to get it to the top and let LaCombe look at his options then go from there. Tonight he assessed his options and ripped one home from the point to tie it, then he set up the overtime winner to complete the comeback.

“He can distribute the puck for sure,” Knies said on the senior defenseman, Jackson LaCombe. “Sometimes I don’t even know what he’s doing, if he’s shooting it or passing it, he kind of fakes me out too. But he’s a heck of a player to have up top. Clutch player, clutch player.”

The coaching staff has been working with LaCombe this year to let some rip from the point but to do it effectively and on the net. Tonight LaCombe had five shots on seven attempts. 

“When he hits the net he’s dangerous,” Motzko said on LaCombe. “He’s a .300 batter so we are working on his batting average because when he hits it, it’s in.”

Luke Mittelstadt was out tonight with an upper-body injury so junior defender, Carl Fish entered the lineup for his first game of the season. Fish wasn’t the only change to the lineup though, as Colin Schmidt also played in his first game of the year. 

Schmidt and Fish bring a physical component to the lineup and down the stretch that can help the Gophers a ton. With a team full of skill, sometimes it’s nice to have a couple of guys who will be physical and lay a couple of guys on their butts. 

Colin Schmidt is the perfect example of that. He didn’t play a lot but when he did he was definitely noticeable. The senior forward had four hits tonight and played well in the defensive zone, exiting the puck cleanly on three out of four attempts.

“He’s a big athlete and we have to take a look at him because he might be a big ingredient for us in the playoffs,” Motzko said on Schmidt. “We’re looking at our roster, we have nine games left to fine-tune this thing.”

Jimmy Snuggerud, like he always does, got the Gophers on the board late in the first period. Mark Estapa went to the box for a head contact, which was reviewed. The Gophers got a five-minute power play out of it but only scored once. Estapa was kicked out for the rest of the game as well. 

In the middle frame of the second period, Eric Ciccolini tied it for the Wolverines off a shot from the point by Ethan Edwards. The Gophers failed to clear it from the defensive zone and Edwards picked it off from the point before ripping a long-distance shot on net. Ciccolini then cashed in on the rebound. 

But a minute and 14 seconds later, Knies got his first of two goals of the night on an unbelievable goal yet again. LaCombe picked up the puck in the defensive zone and sent one to Ryan Chesley, the freshman defender chipped one up to Knies at center ice and watched the big power forward, power his way straight to the net to give the Gophers the lead.

But 43 seconds later, Adam Fantilli tied it. Just 15 seconds after Fantilli scored and silenced the crowd by putting up his hand to his ear, the Wolverines scored again. This time it was Gavin Brindley. Fantilli put the Wolverines up one goal in just 15 seconds and the building went quiet. 

That was until LaCombe scored yet again on the point to tie the game and the rest is history. As Knies yet again scores his second overtime goal of the year, this time with 8.8 seconds left. 

The Gophers will host Michigan tomorrow at 7:00 PM and will be giving out a free Gophers tote to the first 1,500 fans who walk into 3M Arena at Mariucci.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *