Gates, Glover score for Gophers, Robson picks up another win in net
Minneapolis, MN – “We’ve been saying it for a while now: it’s playoff hockey.”
Jack Glover summed up his team’s mindset following a nailbiting Gopher win Friday night at Mariucci Arena. The Gophers (19-13-1 Overall, 10-10-1-1 B1G) beat the Ohio State Buckeyes (19-8-4, 12-8-1) by a 2-1 score in a tight, up-and-down thriller of a game that saw Glover get his first goal of the season, the game-winner at 9:43 of the second period. Minnesota held on late, with defenseman Jack Sadek sweeping the puck off of the goal-line with less than a minute left to preserve the victory.
The Gophers were shot out of a cannon in the first few minutes of the game, dominating the possession and generating good quality scoring chances almost from the drop of the puck. Ohio State drew an early cross-checking penalty when Scott Reedy went to the box at 2:03, but Minnesota deftly diffused the Buckeye chance and went back on the attack.
Junior Gates scored the first goal of the game and 10th of the season at 9:02 of the first for the Gophers. Tyler Sheehy turned the puck over in the neutral zone on a nice backcheck before outletting the puck to Gates along the left wing wall. Gates skated across the line, finding Tommy Novak for a one-timer in the slot. OSU goalie Sean Romeo made the save, but Gates was following the shot, and put away the rebound to give Minnesota the 1-0 lead.
The Gophers increased the lead to 2-0 on Glover’s goal near the halfway mark of the second. Glover downplayed his role in the play, citing “great play by our forwards down low, working their D, which is what they’re so good at,” and a “lucky little deflection,” but the senior defenseman should take more credit: Glover stepped around a sprawling Buckeye before picking his spot in the high slot and firing the puck past Romeo for what would eventually be the game-winning goal.
The Buckeyes got on the board on the powerplay late in the second, sending the game into the final frame at 2-1, which is where it would stay, despite 18 attempted shots throughout the period by the Buckeyes. The key play of the third came with the goalie pulled, when Jack Sadek cleared the puck from off of the goal line behind Mat Robson, sealing the game for the Gophers. Said Gates, the last minute was “pretty intense.” “Those are the fun ones, when everyone’s into it, everyone is up on the bench, there’s a lot on the line and we know that. 2-1 game, it’s playoff hockey and we know that’s how it’s going to be come tournament time.”
Mat Robson got the win between the pipes for the Gophers, making 21 saves to improve to 7-2-0 on the season. The sophomore netminder has now started six straight games for the Maroon and Gold. Sean Romeo drew the hard-luck loss for the Buckeyes, stopping 26 of 28 shots.
Minnesota has now won three straight after sweeping Wisconsin in Madison last weekend, and has won six of seven overall after being swept at home by Michigan in mid-January. The Gophers have also nearly solidified their positioning in both the top four of the Big Ten standings (the top four teams get home-ice in the first round of the conference tournament), and in the PairWise Rankings, which are used to select the field of 16 teams that make the NCAA tournament.
When asked about what has clicked for the team recently, Gates praised the whole team getting into the right mindset. “I think everyone is elevating their play. Everyone’s figuring out their role, and I think we’re playing some good hockey right now.”
The Gophers square off against Ohio State again Saturday afternoon. The game is at 4PM, and can be seen on ESPNU, streamed on WatchESPN, and heard on AM1130.