Minnesota sweeps Michigan with 4-0 win to end first half with a perfect record

Jack LaFontaine earned his second career shutout against his former team

Gophers+defenseman+Jackson+LaCombe+fist+bumps+goaltender+Jack+LaFontaine+during+player+introductions+before+facing+Penn+State+at+the+3M+Arena+at+Mariucci+on+Thursday%2C+Nov.+19.

Audrey Rauth

Gophers defenseman Jackson LaCombe fist bumps goaltender Jack LaFontaine during player introductions before facing Penn State at the 3M Arena at Mariucci on Thursday, Nov. 19.

Julianna Landis, Sports Reporter

In their final game of the first half of their regular season, Minnesota outworked Michigan on both ends of the puck.

The Gophers scored four goals on the Wolverines while the defense and goaltender Jack LaFontaine denied their scoring chances to leave Ann Arbor with a shutout.

While their goal scoring was firing on all cylinders, the most notable storyline in this game would be that of Jack LaFontaine. He started his career in Michigan, playing two seasons with the Wolverines before spending a year in the British Columbia Hockey League and then returning to collegiate hockey with Minnesota.

LaFontaine stood on his head in goal for the Gophers on Wednesday, but returning to play his former team and leave with a shutout was also gratifying on a personal level. In an emotional post-game interview, LaFontaine said that to get a shutout in Michigan meant a lot to him.

“I’m super proud of my team right now, I’m probably the luckiest goalie in the entire country… we’ve got something special here, we’ve got a really good culture, and we’re just going to keep going.” LaFontaine said.

Back-to-back scoring in the second period helped build Minnesota’s early lead, and the momentum was started by forward Jaxon Nelson. While on the powerplay, Nelson cashed in on a rebound off a shot by Sampo Ranta to put the Gophers ahead 3-0.

Twenty seconds after that goal, freshman Mike Koster scored his first collegiate goal against Michigan veteran Strauss Mann, who was relieved of his duties following Koster’s goal.

The Gophers had a familiar hot start in their second game against the Wolverines, with Scott Reedy and Sammy Walker scoring in the first period.

Wednesday’s game was the last on the schedule for the first half of the season.

In post-game media availability, Gophers head coach Bob Motzko said that while the teams were currently in the dark on when the next half of the schedule would be released, “I’ve been told it could come yet this week, you’re sure hoping [it does], because we can’t make any plans until we know when we have to be back….but you know what, it’s fitting for 2020, right now.” Motzko said.