Five for ’15: Ohio State Sweep

by Ben Gotz

It had been a long time since the Gophers got to stand around the center circle at Mariucci.

And after completing the sweep against Ohio State Saturday night, senior forward Seth Ambroz savored the moment.

"It’s so much fun getting on the circle. Especially the way we've played," Ambroz said. "I think coach was saying it’s been 89 days since we’ve been able to get on that circle so it’s nice to finally do that."

The last time the Gophers swept an opponent was early November against Notre Dame, but the team was able to finally put together a complete weekend against the Buckeyes. Here's five extra points and notes on the Gophers weekend after their time on the circle:

1. Fasching inspires shot blocking

Head coach Don Lucia singled out sophmore Hudson Fasching as one of the players he thought played well over the weekend.

Fasching tallied a goal Saturday night, but according to senior forward Travis Boyd, Fasching also inspired the team Friday night.

"Going back to the second shift of the game last night, Hudson Fascihng blocked a shot," Boyd said. "And at that moment the whole bench got up and was excited. It  was kind of like, alright, we’re going to do the little things this weekend. And you know what, we did and we had a good weekend."

Getting in front of shots was an emphasis for the Gophers skaters this weekend, and the players delivered one of the team's best defensive efforts in a while. The Gophers only gave up two goals apiece in their games against the Buckeyes, after giving up an average of 3.5 goals per game their previous 10.

"I think you saw a lot of guys sacrifice their body," Boyd said. "And it showed."

2. Boyd's thoughts before hat trick

Travis Boyd had a few two goal games in his Gophers career, but he had never had a three goal performance until Saturday night.

And before Boyd completed his hat trick, that was something he was thinking about.

"You know what, as weird as it seems on the bench…I knew I had been at two before and wasn’t able to get the third," Boyd said. "So on the bench I was thinking ‘you know what, I’m going to go after it here.’ And we had a power play and right when I was going on I was like if I get a chance to hit a one-timer I’m going to hit it. Luckily enough I hit it and it went in. "

From now on, thoughts of two goal games likely aren't going to bother Boyd.

"It was a special moment," Boyd said. "I just got asked when my last hat trick was and it must’ve been high school hockey. It’s been a while. To do it at home just makes it more special in front of our fans."

3. Gophers Lines

The Gophers forward lines have been jumbled back-and-forth throughout the season, but against Ohio State the Gophers seemed to find some combinations that worked.

The team's starting unit of Boyd, Ambroz and senior forward Sam Warning combined for 10 points in Saturday night's game against the Buckeyes.

"That line was all over tonight," head coach Don Lucia said Saturday.

Lucia wouldn't say definitively after the game whether some of the team's lines would stay together next weekend, mainly due to the fact the Gophers will be facing the Michigan Wolverines and what Lucia considers the top forward group the team will face.

"Obviously, there’s going to be some match-up issues next weekend against Michigan with the depth that they have up front," Lucia said. :I purposefully wasn’t necessarily matching tonight, I wanted to put guys out against some different combinations and see how they would do."

4. Buckeyes on the big sheet

One reason Ohio State head coach Steve Rohlik cited for his team's struggles both nights was the size of the ice sheet at Mariucci Arena.

"You could see our team’s lack of confidence on the big sheet," Rohlik said Saturday. "You try not to get lost and at the same time if you do that you almost retreat too much…It was hard to watch."

Rohlik also noted the power play opportunities and goals his team gave up both nights. With the Gophers success on the power play, it's easy to wonder how much playing on the bigger ice sheet at Mariucci affected the Buckeyes' spacing over the weekend.

5. Gophers in gold

For the first time all season, the Gophers wore their gold alternate jersies against Ohio State on Saturday.

Ambroz liked the way the team looked.

"Yeah, I really wish we would’ve busted those out a lot earlier," Ambroz said. "Those are fun jersies to wear. It was fun to get those out for once."

So any chance of the gold reappearing next weekend against Michigan?

"We’ll go with what works," Ambroz said. "We’ll see what happens. I’m a guy that likes to go with what’s working."