The Minnesota Golden Gophers hockey team swings back into Big Ten action this weekend when they host the Ohio State Buckeyes for a pair of games at 3M Arena at Mariucci. The Gophers will honor former All-American player and head coach Doug Woog on Saturday night with a ceremonial puck drop, a rally towel giveaway and more.
Minnesota returns to Big Ten action after a week off. The Gophers played the US Under 18 Team last Friday night and fell 2-1 on a late goal in the exhibition game. This weekend marks the first of six straight weekends of Big Ten conference play to complete the second half of the conference season. The Gophers and the Buckeyes played two close games in Columbus in December with Ohio State earning a 3-2 overtime win on Friday before the Gophers took home the extra point by winning in the 3x3 double overtime on Saturday. In face five of the last seven games between the two teams have gone to overtime.
Ohio State comes into the series ranked #6 in the nation. Last weekend in Columbus the Buckeyes fell to Notre Dame in a shootout Friday night before getting the win on Saturday. The Buckeyes sit in first place in the Big Ten one point ahead of Michigan State and Penn State.
Minnesota will look to get their scoring going. The Gophers have struggled to score in 2020 with just three goals scored in a split at Michigan State, and just one goal last weekend. Minnesota may be hampered a bit this weekend by missing junior Scott Reedy who leads the team with ten goals on the season with a injury suffered last weekend. Sammy Walker leads the team with 14 points on the season, but has been very quiet as of late. Someone will need to figure out a way to find the back of the net if Minnesota wants to win this weekend.
In net it’s expected that Jack LaFontaine will most likely get the start on Friday night for the Gophers. Freshman Jared Moe saw the ice getting his first collegiate shutout at Michigan State two weeks ago, and will most likely play Saturday night unless LaFontaine really shines brightly on Friday.
In net Ohio State is anchored by goalie Tommy Napier. In 20 games this season he has just a 1.87 goals against average and a save percentage of .933. But, he got banged up in the finale to the Irish last weekend and is questionable for this weekend’s games against the Gophers. If he can’t go, the Buckeyes will roll with backup Ryan Snowden who in five games this season is 3-1-1 allowing 2.52 goals per game with a save percentage of .905.
The Buckeyes rely on their defense and goaltending a lot, but they can still put the puck in the net. Senior Tanner Laczynski leads the team with 25 points on the season and is the second highest NCAA active scorer in the country. He was the Big Ten’s #2 Star of the Week last week. Gustaf Westlund leads the team in goals with 12 on the season thus far.
Special teams will be key to the weekend as Ohio State is 8th in the nation with a 25% success rate on the power play. The Gophers rank 35th at 17.1%. On the penalty kill the Gophers are much better ranking #12 at 85.7 % killed, while the Buckeyes are 24th at 82.9%. Minnesota has had success against the Buckeyes at home over the years. They currently hold a 15-2-3 record all time on home ice, but two of those ties came last season.
The Gophers will honor Doug Woog during Saturday night’s game. There will be a ceremonial puck drop with members of the Woog family before the game, and the first 2,000 fans will get a ceremonial rally towel. The Gophers will wear their gold jerseys with the “Wooger” nameplates that they previously wore in the Mariucci Classic against Bemidji State in December. Additionally several Gopher alumni who played with or for Woog will be in attendance and be recognized during the game.
HOW TO WATCH:
#6 Ohio State Buckeyes @ Minnesota Golden Gophers
Where: 3M Arena at Mariucci, Minneapolis, Minnesota
When: 7PM Friday; 7:30PM Saturday
TV: Fox Sports North + (Fri); BTN (Sat)
Radio: 1130 AM/103.5FM/I Heart Radio App