Gophers sweep Buckeyes to start season 4-0 for the first time since 2014

Goaltender Jack LaFontaine earned his first collegiate shutout on Tuesday.

Gophers+forward+Ben+Meyers+approaches+Penn+State%E2%80%99s+goal+during+the+final+period+at+the+3M+Arena+at+Mariucci+on+Thursday%2C+Nov.+19.

Audrey Rauth

Gophers forward Ben Meyers approaches Penn State’s goal during the final period at the 3M Arena at Mariucci on Thursday, Nov. 19.

Julianna Landis, Sports Reporter

Monday

For the second time in its short season, Minnesota put up four goals on its opponent on Monday, winning 4-1 against Ohio State.

The Gophers put consistent pressure on the Buckeyes all game, pushing to add to their lead even when they were on the penalty kill in the final minute of the game, getting goal number four thanks to a successful empty-netter from Meyers.

Minnesota went on the powerplay three times in the second period, and they finally cashed in on its third time around, with Mike Koster shooting through traffic from the blue line to get the puck up to forward Bryce Brodzinski, who deflected it into the net.

“We’re clicking pretty good on our power play right now… we had opportunities, and then we finally buried one there in a shot we have to take from the point to open things up,” Motzko said. “So, I’m real happy with where our power play is right now, and it will continue to grow and get better.”

Minnesota had an early chance halfway through the first when Burke got the puck past Ohio State’s goal, but it was waved off.

Brock Faber’s first career goal got Minnesota on the board first, as he scored off a cross-ice pass from Ryan Johnson.

Minnesota held the Buckeyes to just one shot on goal through the first, and were also able to capitalize off of their mistakes. Sammy Walker padded their lead in the first period, scoring off a rebound to put Minnesota up 2-0 heading into the first intermission.

Tuesday

Building off a successful first night, Minnesota held down the fort on Tuesday to secure its fourth win of the season. The strong play from the team’s defensemen was crucial in keeping Ohio State at bay throughout the game and supporting goalie Jack LaFontaine’s play in net.

“They did a phenomenal job backchecking and getting to the house, so I’m not gonna say it was 100% a goalie shutout, I think this week especially you saw a team contribution shutout,” LaFontaine said post-game.

The first period of Tuesday’s game was all Gophers. Scott Reedy opened the scoring just two minutes in, and his goal stood despite a challenge from Ohio State. From there, Minnesota continued to dominate, putting up 15 shots and winning 10 of 16 faceoffs.

Despite scoring so early in the first, the second period proved a bit more challenging for Minnesota, as its rounds of shots were all unsuccessful, but head coach Bob Motzko said his team played well through the frustration.

“You could see a little frustration leak into the bench… there was a little pressure from that goaltender so we were missing the net, but our guys buckled right back down,” Motzko said.

The Gophers were able to reconnect for a goal halfway though the third period. Ben Meyers started off the play by taking the puck around the back of the net before taking his shot, and when Nappier deflected, Nathan Burke was waiting in front and scored off the rebound.

The team nearly ended the night with another goal, but a shot from Reedy was waved off for a high stick. Even without the extra goal, Minnesota walked away with another tally in the win column, and are now 4-0 to start the season for the first time since the 2014-15 season.

The 4-0 Gophers will return to the ice Dec. 3-4 when they take on Michigan State in East Lansing.