Gophers Beat The Buckeyes 5-1
COLUMBUS, Ohio (GopherSports.com) – The top-ranked Minnesota men’s hockey program clinched a first-round bye in the upcoming Big Ten tournament with Friday’s 5-1 win over Ohio State at Value City Arena.
Adam Wilcox made 30 saves in net with five different Gophers tallying goals as Minnesota pulled within one win of the inaugural Big Ten regular-season championship.
The Gophers (24-4-5 overall, 12-2-2-0 Big Ten) scored early and often through the game’s first 40 minutes with Justin Kloos starting the run just 2:03 into the game with his 11th goal of the season. Kyle Rau made it a 2-0 game later in the first at 16:05 with a power-play goal – his ninth tally this season. Both first period goals were set up by Taylor Cammarata and Mike Reilly.
Cammarata tallied his third and final point of the night with another power-play goal at 10:14 of the second – this time set up by Mike Reilly and Rau. Mike Reilly finished the night with a career-high three assists and three points while the Minnesota power play went 2-for-4 on the night.
Ohio State (15-12-3, 5-8-4-3) answered with a goal moments later at 10:50 when Tanner Fritz put the Buckeyes on the board, but it was too little, too late for the home squad.
Connor Reilly scored his sixth of the year at 13:01 of the second period after being set up by Justin Holl and Brady Skjei, and Vinni Lettieri ended the scoring for the night 21 seconds later with his second of the year after being fed by Connor Reilly and Gabe Guertler.
Minnesota outshot the Buckeyes 33-31 on the night with Wilcox coming up big when needed. The sophomore nominee for both the Hobey Baker Award and the new Mike Richter Award moved to 22-4-5 on the season with the win while Christian Frey took the loss for Ohio State with a 16 save performance, falling to 6-3-2 after allowing four goals. Matt Tomkins closed out the game for the home team and allowed one goal with 12 saves.
The Gophers will attempt to capture the inaugural Big Ten Conference regular-season championship on Saturday in the series finale at 5:30 p.m. CT. A win against the Buckeyes on Saturday will clinch sole possession of the title for the Gophers, giving Minnesota its third-straight conference regular-season title after winning back-to-back MacNaughton Cups as Western Collegiate Hockey Association regular-season champions the past two seasons.