November 18th, 2022: Without Justen Close, Owen Bartoszkiewicz stepped up and stopped 64 out of the 69 shots he faced in the series.
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In yesterday’s game, the Gophers were without Aaron Huglen and Justen Close. Tonight they got Close back but let Owen Bartoszkiewicz start after stopping 29 out of 31 in yesterday’s 5-2 win. Without Huglen again the Gophers also lost their first-line center, Logan Cooley due to a suspension. Bartoszkiewicz stood tall though and stopped 35 out of the 38 shots he faced tonight.
“Our goalie is sick, our number one guy, so we put in our backup and Owen was outstanding,” Gophers head coach Bob Motzko said on Bartoszkiewicz.
Michigan was without their number-one center and projected third overall pick, Adam Fantilli, for the second straight game. But the Wolverines welcomed back their captain and assistant captain, Nolan Moyle and Jacob Truscott, who both were out due to sickness in game one of the series.
Without Cooley for the second game of the series, Motzko said on the pregame show that he would let a defender or two step up and play forward. Jackson LaCombe, who used to play forward when he was younger, stepped up and raised his hand.
Over ten minutes into the first period, LaCombe stepped onto the ice to play with Matthew Knies and Jimmy Snuggerud. LaCombe caught a pass from Luke Mittelstadt, who had a goal and two assists yesterday, and ripped one over the shoulder of Erik Portillo.
A LaCombe LASER to get things started! pic.twitter.com/pefj6eFz07
— Minnesota Men’s Hockey (@GopherHockey) November 18, 2022
LaCombe has only been playing as a defenseman for his last seven seasons, four of which with the Gophers. But his offensive skill was clearly on display this whole series.
“He got his first shift at left wing and scored,” Motzko said on LaCombe. “The bench had a lot of fun with that.”
Just about three minutes later, Rhett Pitlick notched his third goal of the series and fourth of the year from Snuggerud and Knies. Without Cooley, Motzko moved Knies to center and rotated wingers with the two. LaCombe, Connor Kurth, Pitlick, Charlie Strobel, and Brody Lamb all got shifts with the duo.
Just over three minutes into the second period, Luke Hughes went to the box for cross-checking. One minute and 14 seconds later, Jaxon Nelson scored his first of two on the night. Nelson tipped Snuggerud’s slap pass under Portillo. Brodzinski picked up the secondary assist for his sixth point in his last five games.
With under seven minutes left in the second, Dylan Duke recorded his third goal of the series after banging home the loose puck under Bartoszkiewicz’s blocker. The goal was reviewed to see if it was actually in the net. Duke celebrated as if he scored without a call from the referee. But after review, they called it a good goal.
Motzko called the referee’s over and pretty flustered told them to review it for too many men on the ice. Michigan had seven skaters on the ice at one point and showed six for a good five seconds. But after the review, they indicated it was a good goal.
Charlie Strobel had himself an incredible first period and an even better second, so he was rewarded by playing with Knies and Snuggerud. In the first period, Strobel rushed into the offensive zone as the only attacker and blasted Ethan Edwards. Mason Nevers came swooping in, picked up the loose puck, and sent one over to Strobel in the slot. Portillo stood tall though.
Strobel got plenty of shifts with Knies and Snuggrud but on his first shift, Knies drew a penalty. Bartoszkiewicz headed to the bench for the extra attacker and Nelson hopped over the boards. After a mad scramble in front, Nelson converted on his fourth goal of the year.
Off Nelly and into the net!
That puck had a force field around it 😂 pic.twitter.com/NFEu0kzj7y
— Minnesota Men’s Hockey (@GopherHockey) November 19, 2022
A little over eight minutes into the third, Duke picked up his fourth goal of the series making it a two-goal game. Luke Hughes ripped one from the point that missed wide. The rebound went right in front and Duke converted. All four goals of the series for Duke have been scored basically in the crease.
Two minutes later Jackson Hallum went to the box giving the Gophers another power play chance. LaCombe caught a pass, circled the net, and passed one to Nelson in the slot. The senior forward unloaded on one and hit Knies in front of Portillo. It was Knies’ eighth goal of the year and Nelson’s third point of the night.
But just 27 seconds later Mackie Samoskvich ripped home his 11th goal of the season. He sits second in the NCAA in scoring after that goal. Edwards and Seamus Casey picked up the assists on the play.
With under two minutes left, Portillo went to the bench for the extra attacker and Ryan Johnson notched his first goal of the season with the empty netter.
“He’s one of the best defenders in the country,” Motzko said on Johnson. “He quietly goes about his business and is as efficient as a defender can be at breaking pucks out, defending, and playing in transition. Great, he gets rewarded at the end.”
Bartoszkiewicz stopped 35 shots which helped him earn his third win of the year. The sophomore goaltender stopped 64 shots out of the 69 shots in the series completing the sweep over the No. 3 ranked Michigan Wolverines. He posted a 2.50 goals against average and a .927 save percentage in the series.
“I can’t say enough about how guys stepped up tonight,” Motzko said. “Our special teams were strong, a lot of contributions, and now we can rest up for a few days and get ready to go on the road again.”