Minneapolis, MN – Bob Motzko has been preaching the need for the Gophers to get that separation goal to put their stamp on games.
Saturday night, the Gophers finally met that request.
A stellar second period, punctuated by Gopher goals from Brent Gates and Jack Ramsey, put Minnesota (7-8-4 Overall, 4-3-3 B1G) on top for good in Saturday’s rematch versus #9 Penn State (12-6-2, 4-5-1-1). The Gophers built a 3-1 lead by the end of the second and held on for the win in the third, adding on an empty netter to end the game with a 4-1 victory.
Penn State was the better team in the first, turning the tides of momentum on the Gophers about 5 minutes into the period and kept up the pressure until they finally broke through for a goal at 12:36. Chase Berger drifted into the middle of the ice and wristed a shot past Robson for the first goal of the game.
Minnesota struck back at 15:55 when Tyler Nanne snuck down low from the point and got a great low-to-high pass from Ryan Zuhlsdorf out front. Nanne’s top-shelf wrist shot beat Peyton Jones high glove side to tie the game at 1-1.
After an unenthusiastic start to the second, the Gophers turned it on midway through the middle frame. The turning point of the period came on a long shift for Minnesota. Penn State had possessed the puck and had been ratcheting up the pressure as the Gopher skaters were gasping for breath, but a turnover sprung Rem Pitlick up the right wing. After stopping at the top of the right circle, he fired a pass across the ice to Brent Gates, whose one-time snapshot found the back of an open net at 7:49.
Minnesota led 2-1 on the momentum-shifting Gates goal, but they weren’t done yet. After a few more flurries of offense, including a shorthanded 3-on-1 that resulted in a hit post, the Gophers’ Jack Ramsey scored his second goal of the season (and second in as many nights) when he toe-dragged the puck across the crease and past Peyton Jones to give Minnesota a 3-1 lead heading into the third.
The third period was one of ‘bend but don’t break’ for the Gophers. Penn State came on hard, but Mat Robson made some incredible saves to keep the score at 3-1. PSU coach Guy Gadowsky pulled his goalie with more than three minutes remaining in the period, and Penn State generated an awful lot of chances with the extra attacker, but Rem Pitlick was able to put an empty netter away with 11 seconds left to put the Gophers up 4-1 and put the finishing touches on a good win for the Maroon and Gold.
Minnesota travels to South Bend next weekend to take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. The Irish are ranked #6 in the country behind solid goaltending from junior Cale Morris, with losses to UMD (x2), Michigan (x2), Ohio State and Penn State. Both Friday and Saturday night’s games start at 6PM central, with Friday’s game televised on NBC Sports Network and streamed on NBCSN’s Live Extra. Saturday’s game will not be on TV but will be streamed on Live Extra. Both games will be found on their usual radio homes (1130AM in the Twin Cities).