Gophers men’s hockey sweeps Ohio State

A newly formed second-line powered Minnesota throughout the weekend.

Gophers Forward Ben Meyers takes a shot on net at 3M Arena at Mariucci on Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. The Gophers ended the night with a 6-3 victory over Ohio State. 

Liam Armstrong

Gophers Forward Ben Meyers takes a shot on net at 3M Arena at Mariucci on Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. The Gophers ended the night with a 6-3 victory over Ohio State. 

by Julianna Landis

Following a 2-1 exhibition loss to the U.S. Under-18 team last week, head coach Bob Motzko thought the team’s energy was lacking. 

There was no lack of energy this weekend. The Gophers swept the No. 6 Ohio State Buckeyes, in what was their most complete series of the year. It was the second series sweep this season and first since Oct. 19. 

Gophers put together best offensive performance of their season

In what was expected to be a close, one-goal game, the Gophers scored six goals against one of the top teams in the country en route to a much-needed 6-3 win in Friday’s series opener. 

“That doesn’t happen to Ohio State hardly ever, and that was one night. Tomorrow’s going to be a different story with them, they’re an excellent defensive team, and [Nappier] has been an awful good goaltender,” head coach Bob Motzko said. 

While two of the goals were empty-netters, courtesy of Sampo Ranta and Brannon McManus, Minnesota put four goals past Buckeyes goaltender Tommy Nappier, who before this weekend allowed an average of 1.83 per game. The goals came from players up and down the lineup, with Ranta, Jaxon Nelson, and Jonny Sorenson scoring. 

It was a lineup that looked a bit different than usual with the loss of Scott Reedy, who was described as week-to-week with an upper-body injury. In his place, Ben Meyers moved up to join Ranta and McManus on the second line. 

“We had the puck a lot, and when we have the puck, we can do a lot of things,” Ranta said. “Offense is the best defense, right?” 

The new line had noticeable chemistry, combining for six points in the game.

Meyers started the scoring for the Gophers just minutes later, taking the puck in from the center line and putting it past Buckeyes goalie Tommy Nappier to tie the game.  

“That Ben Meyers goal, that’s fuel for us,” Motzko said. “The energy just got back on our bench, and that’s one thing we’ve been lacking this year is timely offense and we’re getting a little bit of it now, so that’s great.” 

Gophers complete the sweep on Doug Woog night

The Gophers capped off their weekend on Saturday with a sweep of Ohio State, which was extra special as the 4-1 win came on Doug Woog night, as the team and family of the former Gophers player, coach and broadcaster celebrated his legacy.

It was a continuation of Friday’s performance as the Gophers’ second line showed up again. Meyers, Ranta and McManus all scored a goal. Of the ten goals the Gophers scored on the weekend, seven came from the second line. 

“We were talking all the time on the bench, the chemistry was there. It was a lot of fun this weekend to play with them …[Meyers] is an all-around great player, he’s really made an impact so far,” McManus said. 

The only other goal came from Bryce Brodzinski, who opened the scoring for Minnesota five minutes into the first period. 

In the second period, McManus scored off a fortunate deflection that bounced off the the skate of a Buckeyes defender to make the lead 2-0. The line combined for the next goal just three minutes later, this time with Ranta scoring from a nice passing play orchestrated by Meyers.

Meyers scored the fourth goal of the night on a power-play in the third period. The goal added insurance after Ohio State got on the board earlier in the period.

“It’s so much fun to work hard when you’re winning,” goaltender Jack LaFontaine said. “To do it against a team like this is not only important, but it was so awesome. I think this team’s going somewhere special.”