January 20th, 2023: The Gophers start the second half of the Big Ten schedule with a big sweep over the Ohio State Buckeyes.
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Minneapolis, Minn – The biggest focus coming into tonight was for the Gophers to finish off a complete 120-minute effort. They looked great in Friday’s 5-2 win over Ohio State but Gophers head coach Bob Motzko wanted his team to play another complete game on Saturday to finish the weekend strong.
“We had a good week. We’ve had a good feel since Christmas. I liked us the last three weeks and I liked us all weekend,” Motzko said. “They put on a push and we made a couple of mistakes but overall couldn’t be more pleased with our effort throughout our entire lineup.”
A lot of this season has been the Gophers playing a good first game but dropping the second game. Sweeps are hard to come by in the NCAA but the way Minnesota has played in the second game of each weekend series hasn’t been close to how they played in the first.
Tonight, the Gophers put together another complete game and capped off a sweep over the Ohio State Buckeyes on home ice for back-to-back home sweeps.
“Yeah I mean that was kind of our biggest stump first half, we’d win the first game and then we’d get really complacent,” Bryce Brodzinski said. “It was kind of our thing to play like we lost the first game because we knew that they’re gonna come on hard and we had to come out like we lost the game. So yeah, it was a big emphasis on not letting off the gas pedal.”
After a fairly even first period, the Gophers entered the second in a tie game. That was until Garrett Pinoniemi got his first of the season after Sam Rinzel, who had three assists yesterday, sent a puck to the front where Pinoniemi was standing all alone.
Every forward on Minnesota now has a goal this season after Pinoniemi scored his first. The fourth line yesterday was one of the Gophers’ better lines and really provided all the momentum early in the first period. They did it again tonight after a great couple of shifts in the first and later followed it up in the second with the game’s first goal.
“Yeah I mean it felt good. Just went to the net trying to keep it simple and banged one home,” Pinoniemi said on getting his first of the year. “It’s been a while so it felt good.”
Just about four minutes later, Bryce Brodzinski ripped home his second goal in his last four games after firing one past Logan Terness off the rush. But it was Joe Dunlap who picked up his second of the season just 23 seconds after Brodzinski scored.
Just like yesterday, the Buckeyes came out in the second with a big push but again the Gophers did a good job of containing them and eventually scored one late in the second period after Oliver Moore won the faceoff to the right for Rhet Pitlick who ripped home his fourth goal of the weekend and 15th of the season.
The Gophers picked up two quick goals in the third period just ten minutes in to extend their lead to 5-1. Brody Lamb picked up the puck in the offensive zone and circled around the net and some defenders before passing one to Aaron Huglen who scored his second of the weekend and fifth of the year making it 4-1.
Jaxon Nelson later picked up his seventh of the season after he entered the offensive zone with some speed before ripping one five-hole under the pads of Logan Terness.
What was funny is that Motzko had emphasized not trying to score all the goals off the rush but rather taking some time once you get into the offensive zone and keep possession of the puck. Two of the Gophers’ six goals came off the rush and two of them came after they entered the zone and set things up rather than taking a quick shot looking to score off the rush.
Ohio State ended up getting two quick goals within a minute of each other in the third period to make it a two-goal game but after an interference penalty by Patrick Guzzo with their goalie pulled, the Gophers went to the power play with under two minutes left in the game.
Lamb eventually made it a 6-3 game after he picked up an empty net power-play goal with 34 seconds left. After Lamb scored, Ohio State’s Cam Thiesing went straight to the Gophers bench and speared Jimmy Snuggerud right in the chest. Thiesing was upset about the hit that happened earlier when Snuggerud completely blasted Thiesing after the Junior forward tried to hit Snuggerud.
Thiesing was given a five-minute penalty for spearing and a disqualification. Thiesing will likely be suspended by the NCAA.
The Gophers now have a back-to-back weekend road series against the number one and number two teams in the Big Ten so these next four games are crucial. It was good to get a sweep before heading into four very tough games that are ahead.
“I like how we’re playing right now,” Motzko said. “In our league, every win is gonna be so hard to get. Like winning is so hard you know, let’s enjoy this one and our guys have confidence right now. The speed limit will continue to go up now.”