The #4 Minnesota Golden Gophers remained undefeated one more night in 2020 despite missing their top three defensemen by defeating the #5 Michigan Wolverines 3-1. Minnesota is now 7-0 on the season and will look to close out the 2020 portion of their schedule without a blemish on their record tomorrow in the series rematch.
The first period was an even affair but neither team could find the back of the net. The Wolverines had an 11-8 edge on shots on goal. The Gophers would strike first in the second period on the second of back to back power plays. Ben Meyers made a nice cross ice pass to Jaxon Nelson for a one-timer and Sampo Ranta would find the rebound of Nelson’s in front of Wolverines goalie Strauss Mann and put the puck past him to give the Gophers a 1-0 lead.
This one wasn't called off pic.twitter.com/TUUH0iIdiU— Minnesota Men’s Hockey (@GopherHockey) December 9, 2020
It remained that way until Bryce Brodzinski scored his first goal of the season with just over two minutes left in the second period. Ben Meyers earned the puck deep in the Michigan zone on a great forecheck and found a streaking Brodzy down the center of the ice. He put a wrister upper glove corner past Mann to give Minnesota a 2-0 lead after two periods.
They didn't call him Mr. Hockey for nothing. pic.twitter.com/zIdtUl1ASR— Minnesota Men’s Hockey (@GopherHockey) December 9, 2020
The Gophers extended their lead to 3-0 when Meyers recorded his third point on the night on a gorgeous rush. Myers took a gorgeous break out pass from Ben Brinkman and carried the puck up the left side of the ice. He made a move past future first round NHL Draft Pick Owen Power and waited out Mann until he made a move and put the puck past him on the short side.
Have we told you lately how good Ben Meyers is at hockey?— Minnesota Men’s Hockey (@GopherHockey) December 9, 2020
No? Well, consider this us telling you. pic.twitter.com/EoovP1vnYg
Michigan immediately struck back on a gorgeous goal by Kent Johnson to cut the lead to 3-1, but that’s as close as the Wolverines would get.
Kent Johnson solo effort and it's a beauty! pic.twitter.com/fExpKgkB7b— Michigan Hockey (@umichhockey) December 9, 2020
Jack LaFontaine was great once again in net for Minnesota. He made 33 saves to increase his nation leading save percentage and allowed just one goal to drop his nation leading goals against average.
Minnesota once again won several important statistical categories. They won 26 faceoffs compared to 23 for the Wolverines. The Gophers blocked 11 shots to the Wolverines nine. Minnesota was once again perfect on the penalty kill going 1-1 while they were 1-5 on the power play.
Most importantly the Gophers got good defensive play from the back end of their blue line. Missing three players at the US World Juniors required three new players to enter the lineup and Carl Fish, Robbie Stucker and Sam Rossini were not liabilities on defense. That’s all you can ask and they did their job.
Minnesota will look to close out the 2020 portion of the schedule undefeated in the second game of the series in Ann Arbor at 5:30 PM on Wednesday once again live on BTN.