Boyd’s hat trick catalyzes sweep

The Gophers swept a series for the first time since early November.

Gophers forward Seth Ambroz shoots on Ohio State at Mariucci Arena on Saturday, Feb. 7th.

Gophers forward Seth Ambroz shoots on Ohio State at Mariucci Arena on Saturday, Feb. 7th.

Ben Gotz

With the Gophers’ leading goal scorer out, Travis Boyd took the mantle for himself on Saturday.

The senior forward caused hats to hit the Mariucci Arena ice Saturday night, scoring three goals as the Gophers completed a sweep over Ohio State.

Minnesota won 4-2 on Friday and 6-2 on Saturday. It was the first time the Gophers strung together two victories in a weekend since Nov. 7-9 against Notre Dame, 89 days before this weekend’s series.

“It’s been tough for us to put two together in a weekend and … we did, and it’s great to be a part of,” senior forward Seth Ambroz said. “It’s been too long.”

Boyd’s four-goal weekend and first career hat trick moved him into the team lead in goals over the injured Connor Reilly, despite missing seven games this season thanks to an injury of his own.

Boyd’s three goals and four points Saturday set new career highs for the senior, who started both games with fellow seniors Ambroz and Sam Warning.

Together, the three roommates were productive, with Warning and Ambroz tallying three assists apiece Saturday night.

“I think we just have a good mix,” Boyd said. “Sam’s got great wheels — he can really move on the ice. And Seth’s a big boy. He gets in the dirty areas and creates havoc. I guess I’ll just be the in-between piece.”

Boyd’s goal started things off for the Gophers on Saturday, and his next two in the second period gave his team a cushion after a bizarre Ohio State goal.

Ohio State junior defenseman Sam Jardine was skating down the ice and appeared to dump the puck in the Gophers’ zone. But the puck bounced off the back boards, off the right pad of junior goaltender Adam Wilcox and into the net.

The Gophers didn’t let the Buckeyes back in the game, however, as Boyd’s next two goals gave the Gophers the cushion they needed.

In Friday night’s victory, the Gophers had other players step up to fill Reilly’s shoes.

Freshman forward Leon Bristedt scored first for the Gophers on Friday, after moving onto the team’s second power-play unit with Reilly out.

“I have a good opportunity here,” Bristedt said. “Connor’s out, unfortunately. Someone has to fill in his spot, and I [have] a chance here [to] just step in and take it.”

Sophomore forward Justin Kloos ended his streak of seven games without a goal Friday, skating through traffic for his ninth score of the season.

Kloos said he had been frustrated during the “longest snakebite” of his career, but a talk with associate head coach Mike Guentzel helped him out.

“Most of my problems were mental,” Kloos said. “I was just getting frustrated. I was losing a little confidence around that. I came in with a positive attitude, and luckily I was able to pump one in.”

The Gophers’ power play played a big role both nights, with the team scoring five power-play goals over the weekend and another goal right after an Ohio State penalty had expired.

“We looked good,” head coach Don Lucia said. “We moved it with authority, we played with pace, we did a really good job in the
offensive zone.”