Minnesota’s Big Ten title still on ice

The Gophers lost in a shootout on Saturday after winning on Friday.

Minnesota goalie Adam Wilcox grabs the puck during a game against Minnesota State-Mankato on Friday, Nov. 2, 2012, at Mariucci Arena.

IcIchigo Takikawa, Daily File Photo

Minnesota goalie Adam Wilcox grabs the puck during a game against Minnesota State-Mankato on Friday, Nov. 2, 2012, at Mariucci Arena.

by Megan Ryan

The Big Ten regular-season title will have to wait another week.

The No. 1 Gophers men’s hockey team beat Ohio State 5-1 on Friday, but it couldn’t pull out the final win needed to claim the title. Minnesota tied 2-2 and lost in a shootout Saturday to delay the celebration until the final series of the regular season next weekend.

The postponement may have been a bit of a letdown, but the Gophers did clinch a bye into the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament.

Minnesota traded blows with the Buckeyes on Saturday sans star junior forward Sam Warning, who missed the match with an upper-body injury.

Gophers junior forward Kyle Rau scored the first goal of the game on the power play about 2:30 into the first period.

That 1-0 lead held for nearly two full periods until Ohio State’s Ryan Dzingel scored on the power play early in the third period.

Minnesota head coach Don Lucia said Dzingel raised his game in the final period, while the Gophers struggled at times to stay competitive.

“I thought in the third, we looked a little bit tired,” Lucia said.

Still, amid the tired bodies on the ice, Gophers freshman forward Gabe Guertler put his team in front again about 20 seconds after Ohio State tied the game at 1-1.

Ohio State fought back and again evened the score late in the third period with a goal from Nick Schilkey.

“We were up with five minutes left, and that goal … did deflate us a little bit,” senior captain Nate Condon said. “This is the time of year where these things happen, and we have to bounce back if we want to win championships.”

The Gophers, however, failed to rebound throughout overtime and the subsequent shootout.

Schilkey played hero again in the shootout, scoring the only goal for either team on his first attempt.

Gophers sophomore goaltender Adam Wilcox recorded a career-high 41 saves in a losing effort.

“Adam is our best player, and he’s really been playing like it lately,” Condon said. “He’s the type of goalie who makes all the saves you want him to and then gets to a couple that he shouldn’t.”

The Hobey Baker Award and Mike Richter Award nominee managed 30 saves in Friday’s win.

Minnesota freshman forward Justin Kloos scored two minutes into the first period Friday, and Rau extended his team’s lead about 14 minutes later.

Gophers freshman forward Taylor Cammarata continued the power-play success about 10 minutes into the second period.

After Ohio State netted a goal to make it 3-1, redshirt freshman forward Connor Reilly and freshman forward Vinni Lettieri put the nail in the coffin in the second period.

The Gophers will face No. 12 Michigan on the road next weekend with a chance to finally take home the inaugural Big Ten regular-season championship.