The “nine” line leads Gophers men’s hockey to a 4-1 win over Michigan State

Junior co-captain Ben Meyers recorded three points – two goals and one assist – in Minnesota’s victory.

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Kamaan Richards

Gophers Forward Ben Meyers chases the puck in the 3M Arena on Friday, Oct. 25. The Gophers went on to lose 2-5 to the University of Minnesota – Duluth.

by Michael Lyne , Sports Reporter

Throughout the week leading up to Friday night’s game against Michigan State to open up the second half of the Gophers’ Big Ten season, head coach Bob Motzko said that his team needs to play more consistently.

Minnesota has struggled on Friday nights, but they are starting the second half of the season, and 2022, on a good note.

Led by the “nine” line of junior co-captain Ben Meyers and freshmen Chaz Lucius and Matthew Knies, the Gophers defeated Michigan State in a 4-1 victory Friday night on the road to improve their record to 11-8 this season.

Meyers scored two goals in the game, including the game-winning goal for Minnesota, which came in the first period that saw three goals.

Meyers received a pass from Lucius in the neutral zone, then skated into the left faceoff circle, where he fired a low wrist shot into the back of the net with 5:12 remaining to give the Gophers a 2-0 lead.

Before Meyers’ game-winning tally, one of his co-captains in senior Sammy Walker, opened up the scoring 8:34 into the game after he sprung out of the penalty box.

Senior Blake McLaughlin received an outlet pass from junior Jaxon Nelson. Then, McLaughlin worked his way into the Spartans’ zone on the left side of the ice to create an odd-man rush, where he fed Walker a cross-crease pass, and Walker made no mistake burying the puck inside the back post.

The Spartans’ lone goal came from Nash Nienhuis, who scored his first collegiate goal, just minutes after Meyers’ game-winning goal.

Just before the halfway mark of the second period, graduate student goaltender Jack LaFontaine challenged a loose puck in the Gophers’ zone to prevent a breakaway. He collided heavily with Michigan State’s Jagger Joshua, but luckily for Minnesota, he did not get injured as a result.

Meyers scored his second goal of the game to give the Gophers a 3-1 lead with 3:16 remaining in the second period after he buried a one-timer in the slot from Knies.
Nelson left the game early in the third period after suffering an injury following a shot, which appeared to be an ankle injury. He later received help off the ice.

Lucius added the fourth goal for Minnesota with 3:41 remaining in the game, which Meyers and Knies assisted. Meyers leads the team with 21 points (seven goals, 14 assists) in 19 games this season.

The Gophers outshot Michigan State 36-25 and went a perfect 4-4 on the penalty kill. However, their power play that ranked second in the Big Ten coming into the game went 0-4.

LaFontaine looked back to form as he held a .960 save percentage after making 24 saves on 25 shots faced.

Minnesota is on the right track toward “more consistency” in their game, and a win Saturday night would help fuel them toward this goal.

The Gophers will wrap up their series against Michigan State when they take on the Spartans on Saturday, Jan. 8, at 6:30 p.m.

Walker Watch

The Edina, Minn. native needs one more point to reach 100 collegiate points. He has 42 goals and 57 assists in 124 games.