‘Like A Trip To The Dentist’: Gophers Fall 6-4 To The Number 11 Ranked Ohio State Buckeyes

October 28th, 2022: Last weekend the Gophers let their emotions get to them in the loss, today they show no emotion and drop their Big Ten Opener 6-4.

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When you score four goals you usually expect to win the game but this wasn’t the case for the Gophers in their first Big Ten game of the season. Too many defensive mistakes and odd-man rushes loom over the No. 1 ranked Minnesota Gophers as they allow six to the No. 11 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes.

“That was not a good effort by us and our energy was low tonight,” Gophers head coach Bob Motzko said on his team’s 6-4 loss. “Like a trip to the dentist tonight. When you don’t have your energy you make some poor decisions and we made some really poor decisions.”

The Gophers got the first shot of the game only 13 seconds in off a point shot by Brock Faber and eventually added another shot two minutes later. After that, not too much went their way. Tied in shots at nine a piece the Gophers saw themselves starting the second period down a goal.

The Buckeyes got the game’s first goal after the Gophers went 12 minutes and 51 seconds without an even-strength shot. It was Dominic Vidoli’s first goal of the season after taking a high slot shot that hit the stick of Mason Nevers. The pinch by Jackson LaCombe did not work and Michael Gildon’s stretch pass landed right on the stick of Vidoli. 

It wasn’t even a shot. Vidoli was high in the slot to the left of Justen Close and saw Jaedon Leslie streaking in. His hard attempted pass hit off the stick of Nevers, who was covering for LaCombe, and went right in.

As senior captain’s usually do, LaCombe made up for his failed pinch, which led to Ohio’s goal, and blasted one past Jacob Dubes tying the game at one just 90 seconds into the second period. The goal came from a faceoff win by Aaron Huglen, Nevers came over from the left hashmark and slid one back to the point for LaCombe. It was LaCombe’s team-leading eighth point of the year.

Dating back to last season, LaCombe now has four goals and 19 points in his last 15 games. The senior defender has started the season with points in seven straight games. 

About seven minutes later, Connor Kurth went to the box for tripping which sent Ohio to the power play in a tie game. It was the Buckeyes’ first power play of the game, a power play that has converted on 21 percent of their chances this season. Mason Lohrei ripped a shot from the point and with traffic in front, Travis Treloar tipped it past Close making it 2-1. Jake Wise picked up the secondary assist on the goal.

Wise played on a line with Kamil Sadlcha and Cam Thiesling, that line had seven shots on goal and allowed Minnesota’s top line to only two shots. They held the Gophers’ leading goal scorer, Jimmy Snuggerud to zero shots.

“That was the name of the game, we knew we were going to try and match up Wise’s line with that line,” Ohio State Buckeyes’ head coach Steve Rohlik said about matching his first line against the Gophers’ first line of Snuggerud, Logan Cooley, and Matthew Knies. “We all bought in tonight and we got to be better tomorrow, but that was the name of the game tonight.”

Just a minute and 12 seconds later Joe Dunlap notched his second goal of the year and tenth in 57 career games. Dunlap caught a pass by Matt Cassidy in the neutral zone and flew up the right side. Ping. That’s the sound Dunlap’s rocket made after he hit the back bar giving his Buckeyes’ a 3-1 lead. 

Three minutes and 13 seconds later Huglen sauced a nice pass over to Brody Lamb in the slot. Lamb juked Cole McWard with his toe drag and ripped one five-hole past Dubes with Nevers screening in front.

A minute and 23 seconds later Stephen Halliday notched his third goal of the year. Halliday is coming off a very impressive season in the USHL with the Dubuque Fighting Saints. A season where Halliday, who played on a line with current Gopher freshman Connor Kurth, notched 35 goals and 95 points in 62 games.

Treloar opened the third period with his second goal of the night which chased senior goaltender Justen Close out of the net after allowing five goals on 26 shots. Owen Bartoszkiewicz came into the game and played the remaining 18 minutes while stopping eight shots out of the nine he faced.

Just about seven minutes later, Patrick Guzzo converted on a sweet two-on-one feed by Joe Dunlap. Not much Bartoszkiewicz could do on that one as freshman defender Cal Thomas was caught up high in the slot. Guzzo caught the pass to the right of Bartoszkiewicz, skated back where the pass came from and slipped it by the sliding Bartoszkiewicz making it a 6-2 game.

With about eight minutes remaining, Jaxon Nelson streaked in on the right side and went behind the net of Dobes for the wraparound and almost tucked it in. But there for the rebound was Byrce Brodzinski and the Gophers trailed by three.

With only 15 seconds left on the clock a point shot by Luke Mittelstadt, who had four shots on goal with seven attempted, found its way through traffic in front. Luke’s older brother, John, banged home the rebound notching his first collegiate goal of the year. But that was it for the Gophers in their first Big Ten matchup of the year.

The effort wasn’t there and Motzko made that clear after the loss. The Buckeyes just won their first home game against the Gophers since 2019 and are now 6-15-2 all-time against the Gophers at home.

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