After getting swept by a top-ten ranked team in North Dakota last week, the Gophers' men's hockey team faced another tough test for a weekend series at No. 7 Ohio State. While Minnesota didn't come away with a victory, they played into overtime in both games — a stark contrast from the North Dakota series in which they looked over-matched.
Gophers give up lead in third, lose in overtime 3-2
The Buckeyes were able to dismantle the Gophers just when it was beginning to look like they could hold on for a win against their nationally-ranked opponents. After taking a 2-1 lead early in the third period, Minnesota wasn't able to maintain it for very long before Ohio State had an answer. Carson Meyer scored the equalizer midway through the period with assists from Edina native Miguel Fidler and Wyatt Ege.
Neither team was able to come up with another goal in regulation, and so the game went to overtime, and then double overtime.
However, the Gophers' upset bid came up short as the Buckeyes were able to score again before the end of the first overtime. The Buckeyes' Quinn Preston scored on a rebounded shot by Tanner Laczynski that careened off the pads of Jack LaFontaine to secure a 3-2 overtime loss for Minnesota.
"For us, we're desperate for a win. It hurts, that stings," Gophers head coach Bob Motzko told the media. "We made three glaring mistakes and they scored on all three. ... We needed to find a way to score in the early part of that game and it just didn't come."
Ohio State opened up the scoring with an unassisted goal from defenseman Grant Gabriele in the later minutes of the first period. The Gophers were able to pressure Buckeyes goalie Tommy Nappier following the goal, putting up four shots with Sammy Walker and Ben Meyers winning key faceoffs. It wasn't enough to even the score, and they were unable to convert with a power-play opportunity that continued into the start of the second period.
Minnesota's comeback would eventually come by way of power-play chances, with goals from Robbie Stucker and Sampo Ranta. Notably, Stucker scored his first collegiate goal on a power play with two minutes to go in the second period to tie the game.
However, that was all the scoring Minnesota could muster. The Gophers narrowly outshot the Buckeyes, 27-26.
Minnesota grabs extra conference point and some confidence on Saturday
The Gophers ended the weekend better than they started it, skating to a tie with Ohio State and picking up an extra conference point in double overtime.
Minnesota ended the first period with back-and-forth play that brought the scoreless game to a 1-1 tie in just over two minutes. The Gophers' Jonny Sorenson opened up the scoring with three minutes left in the period, but Ohio State answered with a goal from Gustaf Westlund with under a minute to play in the period.
The game remained tied until a second overtime period was needed to decide the final score.
Even with a low-scoring game, there were positive takeaways of the Gophers' play in between the goals and overtime. They were able to kill off four Buckeye power plays, outshot them 34-30 and LaFontaine, who backstopped Minnesota in both games, made 29 saves on 30 shots. He did so while having issues with his equipment, his mask in particular, and swapped to a back-up mask in the third period.
Topping that off, while they were unable to get a win in the first overtime period, Meyers snagged the extra conference point with a slick breakaway goal in double overtime.
"We just got good performances by a lot of players, we were just methodical about our business and just did a real good job," Motzko told the media.