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Minnesota Hockey: Gophers Sweep Michigan Wolverines to Move to 8-0

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It was another stellar performance from Jack LaFontaine in net

Jack LaFontaine is the best goalie in the nation in 2020
Kristin Ostrowski—Gophersports.com

The Minnesota Golden Gophers men’s hockey team got another great performance from goalie Jack LaFontaine and used a pair of power play goals to defeat the Michigan Wolverines 4-0 on Thursday night. The win advanced the Gophers record to 8-0 on the season and allows them to finish the 2020 portion of the season undefeated. Minnesota will take the traditional holiday break and will not return to action sometime in January—when a second half of the season schedule is finally released.

Minnesota once again jumped out early on the Wolverines. Scott Reedy scored his nation leading sixth goal of the season putting in a rebound of a Ben Brinkman shot.

Minnesota would make it 2-0 later in the period on their first power play goal of the game. Captain Sammy Walker finally scored his first goal of the season. Robbie Stucker took a shot from the point that was tipped by Reedy and saved by Michigan goalie Strauss Mann. The rebound came out to Mann’s left where Walker found it and put it past him to give the Gophers a 2-0 lead.

Minnesota would make it 3-0 in the second period once again on the power play. This time it was Jaxon Nelson. Ben Meyers put a shot on Mann and the rebound came out to Nelson who put it behind Mann.

Twenty-two seconds later it was Gopher freshman Mike Koster scoring his first goal in the maroon and gold. He picked up a Michigan turnover right in the slot and wristed it past Mann to end his night and give Minnesota a 4-0 lead.

Minnesota would take that 4-0 lead into the third period and while Michigan tried to get a puck past Lafontaine, they were not successful. He would make 34 stops like this to preserve his second career shutout and move his record on the season to a perfect 8-0. LaFontaine actually improved his NCAA leading save percentage to .965 and lowered his NCAA leading goals against average to 1.0 after the Michigan series,

Minnesota now has 24 points in the Big Ten standings and is eight clear of Wisconsin who is in second place and also had played eight games. The Gophers have been exceptional in all facets of the game. Minnesota was 2-4 on the power play in the game, and was once again a perfect 1-1 on the penalty kill. The Gophers are a perfect 17-17 on the PK this season.

To show how epic the Minnesota defense and LaFontaine have been this season this is the first season that Minnesota has allowed two goals or fewer in each of its first eight games since 1939-40. Yes you read that right...1939-40. That season the Gophers won the AAU National Championship. Omens all around.

Minnesota’s 8-0 start to the season is the first time that has happened since 1987-88. Their #4 ranking is the highest they have been since November of 2017, and with a sweep over the #5 team in the county they should rise even higher next week. The only disappointing thing is that we will now have to wait at least three weeks to see the Gophers hit the ice once again.