No rest for the weary. Just three days after the #11 Minnesota Golden Gophers moves to 2-0 on the season with a sweep of the Penn State Nittany Lions they will hit the ice once again Monday night as they host a pre-Thanksgiving series against the #10/9 Ohio State Buckeyes. The two teams will face off again Tuesday night with both games dropping the puck at 7:30 PM and airing on BTN.
Minnesota will look to continue their hot start to the season. Minnesota opened the 2020-21 season with a home sweep of their nemesis in recent seasons Penn State. Minnesota opened up with a 4-1 win on Thursday getting goals from four different players. Friday afternoon was a bit more of a struggle, but the Gophers would hang on for a 3-2 victory. Jack LaFontaine started both games in goal for the Gophers and made 60 saves in the series allowing just three goals.
The Gophers had six different goal scorers in the series against Penn State with only senior Scott Reedy lighting the lamp twice. The Gophers did have several players who ended up recording three points in the series. Brannon McManus scored a goal on Friday and added a pair of assists, while Matt Staudacher recorded three assists over both games.
One high point of the series was the Minnesota power play. After going 0-2 on Thursday the Gophers bounced back going 2-3 on Saturday. The Gopher penalty kill was a perfect 6-6 against the Nittany Lions as well.
Minnesota will have the benefit of having knocked the rust off when the Buckeyes come to down. Ohio State will play its first two games of the season this week in Minneapolis. The Buckeyes are the last team in the Big Ten in fact to kick off their season. The Buckeyes will be looking to have another quality season in the conference after finishing in a three way tie with Michigan and Minnesota for second place in the conference last season. The Buckeyes were predicted to finish in third place in the conference this season by the coaches.
Ohio State returns 19 players from a season ago most notably anchored by goalie Tommy Nappier. The senior has earned 33 career wins and currently ranks second in the NCAA in returning players with a career save percentage of .934 and fourth in career goals-against average 1.92. Minnesota has had success getting to Nappier in recent memory with the Gophers winning the season series over the Buckeyes 2-1-1 a year ago and scoring 10 goals in a sweep over OSU at Mariucci last January. In fact Minnesota is nearly invincible against Ohio State at home with an all-time record of 17-2-3 at Mariucci against the Buckeyes.
The Buckeyes will be looking to replace a couple of their scoring stars from a season ago. Tanner Laczynski has moved on to the pro ranks after scoring 143 points in 138 career games for the Buckeyes. Additionally Carson Meyer who lead OSU in goals with 17 a season ago has also graduated and moved on from Columbus.
Ohio State still returns forward Quinn Preston who scored 15 goals a season ago, along with Gustaf Westlund who both tied for third on the team in points behind Laczynski and Meyer.
Minnesota’s national ranking will rise when the new national polls are announced on Monday, but most importantly to them will be getting as many Big Ten points as possible against the Buckeyes. Getting home points—despite the lack of home crowds is still going to be key, and Minnesota would like to continue their home domination of the Buckeyes this week before getting a 10 day break before heading to Michigan for four games in six days against the Spartans and Wolverines.
HOW TO WATCH:
#9/10 Ohio State Buckeyes @ #11 Minnesota Golden Gophers
Where: 3M Arena at Mariucci, Minneapolis, MN
When: 7:30 PM Monday/Tuesday
TV: Big Ten Network
Stream: Fox Sports App
Radio: 1130 AM/ 103.5 FM/ I Heart Radio App