Kangas solid in goal as Minnesota sweeps

Freshman Alex Kangas shut out the Buckeyes for two-plus periods.

Brian Deutsch

One start, one win and one night to remember for freshman goaltender Alex Kangas.

Making his first appearance in goal for the Minnesota men’s hockey team, Kangas helped lead the Gophers to a 2-1 win over Ohio State Friday night.

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Denver
what: Men’s Hockey
when:7:07 p.m., Friday
where: Mariucci Arena

Although rumors were rampant this week about the possibility of seeing the Rochester native in between the pipes for Minnesota, Kangas said he still had butterflies in his stomach before the game due mostly to the attendance of family and friends.

Kangas played two-plus periods of shutout hockey and finished the game with 32 saves.

“If you’re passing out three stars, he was first, second and third,” coach Don Lucia said.

The freshman did surrender one goal to the Buckeyes, as Ohio State senior defenseman Kyle Hood launched a shot from the point that deflected off a stick and into the net at the 8:23 mark in the third period.

But after saving the game for Minnesota by denying an onslaught of shots near the end of the third period, Kangas received a standing ovation from the crowd of 9,573, whose cheers of appraisal were nearly deafening.

“I’ve never really felt anything like that before,” Kangas said. “It was pretty cool with my first start.”

After putting just 11 shots on net in the first two periods, the Buckeyes dominated the third period – putting 22 shots on goal in the final 20 minutes. In the same span, Minnesota had just three shots.

“(The third period pressure) kind of got my heart racing a little bit there, maybe a little too much,” Kangas said. “That’s what we goalies thrive on. We like making the big plays Ö it was just perfect for me tonight.”

PP drought continues

The Gophers continued to struggle on the power play Friday night – getting blanked on two opportunities.

Minnesota has gone 20-straight power plays without scoring a goal. That’s two periods of hockey without finding the back of the net.

In both of the team’s chances Friday, the Gophers seemed tentative about even taking a shot while on the advantage.

Instead they preferred to just rotate the puck around in the offensive zone waiting for a perfect shot, which the Buckeyes’ penalty unit was unwilling to give up.

New lines produce

In an attempt to stimulate some offensive production, Lucia mixed up his offensive lines for Friday night’s game, including breaking up last year’s top two scorers, sophomores Jay Barriball and Kyle Okposo.

And the switches paid off for the Gophers as Barriball notched his first goal of the season on what would eventually become the game-winner.

“What we were trying to do was get Kyle going a little bit and get Jay going,” Lucia said. “Early on, I thought they had more energy. It was nice for Jay to get that first goal of the season, and I thought Kyle had some good chances. He just couldn’t finish.”

6:19 into the second period, Barriball picked off a Buckeyes cross-ice pass and slipped a break away shot through the five-hole of sophomore goalie Joseph Palmer.

“(Scoring) was a big relief, I’ve been looking for it for a couple games here now,” Barriball said. “I caught a good break and was able to jump on that pass and finish the play well.”

Junior forward Justin Bostrom also picked up a goal in the win – his second in as many nights.

Saturday exhibition win

Senior netminder Brent Solei was 25 seconds from a shutout – stopping 16 shots in Minnesota’s 3-1 over the U.S. Under-18 team Saturday night.

Freshman forward Patrick White, freshman defenseman Cade Fairchild and Barriball tallied the Gophers’ trio of goals.