Gophers sweep weekend series against Buckeyes

Sam Warning had a hat trick a day after the Hockey City Classic game.

Minnesota defenseman Mike Reilly reaches for the puck against the Buckeyes on Friday at the Hockey City Classic at TCF Bank Stadium.

Minnesota defenseman Mike Reilly reaches for the puck against the Buckeyes on Friday at the Hockey City Classic at TCF Bank Stadium.

Megan Ryan

For all the hype created by Friday’s Hockey City Classic — held outdoors at TCF Bank Stadium — the game itself wasn’t loaded with excitement.

While the Gophers beat Ohio State 1-0 with a slapdash goal from freshman forward Taylor Cammarata in the second period, the novelty of the game was the Bank’s announced crowd of 45,021 — the largest crowd ever to watch a hockey game in Minnesota.

This is the second year in a row the Gophers have played an outdoor game. Senior forward and captain Nate Condon said the team learned from playing Wisconsin at Soldier Field last season.

“You need to get pucks to the net and people to the net,” he said. “That’s the only way you are going to score outside. You can’t exactly have the transition game you want.”

But the goals that were absent from Friday night’s game made their appearance Saturday at Mariucci Arena during Hockey Day Minnesota, as the Gophers completed the sweep with a 4-2 win.

Minnesota went down two goals early in the game but responded less than 30 seconds after the Buckeyes’ second goal to cut the deficit in half.

That goal was Sam Warning’s first of the night but not his last. He lit the lamp again in the second period before completing his natural hat trick on the power play about midway through the period.

Following the third goal, hats of all styles littered the ice to celebrate the Gophers’ first natural hat trick in more than three years.

Unfortunately for the star of the night, he didn’t get to keep any of the hats.

“No, I wish,” Warning said after the game. “There were a couple pretty good ones on the ice.”

With the three goals, Warning pulled ahead of teammate Seth Ambroz for the team lead in goals — until seven minutes into the third period, when Ambroz grabbed an unassisted goal to solidify the Gophers’ win.

Now, both skaters have 10 goals for the season.

Ambroz’s goal might have been predestined. A Missouri native stole the show on Hockey Day Minnesota, so at least one in-state star had to make the stat sheet.

Still, head coach Don Lucia said no matter what day it is, a goal from any of his players means the same thing.

“Well, you know what? He’s a Gopher,” Lucia said of Warning. “[It] doesn’t matter where you’re from.”