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Inconsistent Gophers Drop Finale in Columbus

Posted: Sat Mar 07 7:41 pm
by Eckes
Minnesota and Michigan Losses Open Door for Michigan State to Lead the B1G Heading Into Final Weekend

Columbus, OH - ...it was the worst of times.

This season has truly been a tale of two teams. With a chance to take a commanding lead in the B1G conference, the bad Gophers showed up Saturday afternoon in Columbus, dropping the series finale 5-2 with two OSU empty net goals at the end adding insult to injury.

With Penn State sweeping Michigan, the Gophers (19-12-3 Overall, 10-5-3 B1G) just couldn't muster a win in Columbus, falling to the fifth-place Ohio State Buckeyes (12-18-2, 7-11-0). Michigan and Minnesota's missteps mean a MSU win versus Wisconsin tonight would have Michigan State leading the B1G, with four teams in it with a chance to win the conference on the last weekend of the regular season.

Minnesota started slow, registering just three shots on goal in the opening period and allowing Ohio State to take an early 1-0 lead on a Nick Schikley putback goal.

The Gophers showed some fire in the second period, scoring on a couple deflections from Taylor Cammarata and Vinni Lettieri to briefly take the lead at 2-1. Ohio State struck on another loose puck in front to tie the game at 2-2 heading into the third.

Minnesota had their chances in the final period - Justin Kloos and Seth Ambroz hit posts in the final frame - but it was OSU's Craig Dalrymple that scored his second goal of the season and second of the weekend to down the Gophers. OSU's Anthony Greco and Tanner Fritz added empty netters in the final minute to set the final score at 5-2 in favor of the Buckeyes.

The loss hurts Minnesota both in the conference and in the PairWise Rankings, which predict the teams that will make the NCAA tournament field of 16. Minnesota now sits at 33 points in the B1G, which is currently tied for first with Michigan, but as mentioned could sit one point behind Michigan State at the end of the night. Michigan and MSU play a home-and-home series to wrap up their regular seasons next weekend, while the Gophers host Penn State, who sit at 31 points and are coming off of a home sweep of Michigan. Those four teams will decide the B1G regular season title next weekend.

In more disappointing news, today's loss dropped the Gophers to 14th in the PWR, which is about as nervous a bubble-spot as you can get. In order to make the NCAA tournament at this point, the Gophers will basically either need to sweep Penn State and make the B1G Championship Game, or win the B1G post-season tournament. After tonight's performance, neither of those options seems likely, but this team has been full of surprises all year so you just never know.

The Gophers host the Nittany Lions for a two-game set next Friday and Saturday, with both games at 7PM. Friday's game is not televised and can only be streamed via BTN's paid streaming service BTN Plus. Saturday's contest is on FSN+ and the normal BTN2Go. Both games can be heard on AM1500.