The No. 2-ranked Minnesota Gophers hockey team (6-2, 11-5) split a non-conference series this weekend against Arizona State University at Mullett Arena in Tempe, Arizona, the shared home with the Arizona Coyotes.
The Gophers had the lead all night long in Friday’s 3-2 win over Arizona State with goals from Jaxon Nelson, Bryce Brodzinski and Logan Cooley. But it didn’t translate in Saturday night’s back-and-forth contest that resulted in a 6-5 loss for the Gophers in overtime — ending their four game win streak — after the Sun Devils scored with just over three minutes left to extend the game to an extra session.
Minnesota got goals from Matthew Knies, Rhett Pitlick, Brock Faber, Jimmy Snuggerud and John Mittlestadt on Saturday night.
After stopping 28 of 30 shots — good for a .933 save percentage — on Friday night, Justen Close allowed six goals on 24 shots on Saturday night.
It’s difficult to blame him though with the Gophers poor performance this weekend.
Here are the top three highlights from the Gophers series split against Arizona State University before next weekend’s matchup against Michigan State for an important conference series:
— — —
The Arizona Connection
Two minutes into the third period on Friday night, Cooley pulled off
The Michigan the lacrosse-style goal, a move he came within inches of completing during the World Junior Championships when the United States played Austria back on Aug. 13.
Logan Cooley executing the Michigan/lacrosse shot fro Minnesota against Arizona State pic.twitter.com/7QvZ7dJqFZ— Lacrosse Playground (@LaxPlayground) November 27, 2022
This was the second time Cooley pulled it off, though, with the first time being back in April at the U18 World Championship.
Cooley, a top prospect for the Arizona Coyotes, got his first taste of scoring at Mullett Arena where the Coyotes will be located for at least three years — and it won’t be long for Cooley to be there, too.
The 18-year-old center now has five goals and 16 points in 15 games — 1.07 point-per-game rate. He’s one of Minnesota’s three PPG players to this point and has been electric this season with Snuggerud.
The cherry on top?
Knies opened the scoring on Friday night for the Gophers in his home state and in his usual spot: the front of the net.
Matthew Knies out in front?— Minnesota Men’s Hockey (@GopherHockey) November 27, 2022
We've seen this before pic.twitter.com/onnCQj8qmr
It probably capped off a fun weekend on the road where the Gophers spent Thanksgiving at the Knies’ residence:
Thanksgiving dinner with the fam— Minnesota Men’s Hockey (@GopherHockey) November 25, 2022
A huge thank you to the Knies family for having us! pic.twitter.com/VisRuZ32qY
The Passing Plays
While the Gophers have a lot of work cut out for them ahead, they made some impressive passing sequences that led to goals against the Sun Devils — two of them came in the first period on Friday night.
The first one came on the power play when Snuggerud fed a pass to Nelson down low, who then passed it to Cooley who sent it right back to Nelson to bury it.
There was no chance T.J. Semptimphelter was making that save with the puck on Nelson’s stick and with that much net to work with.
Later in the first frame, it was Brodzinski who scored to give the Gophers a 2-0 lead. After receiving a pass from Nevers, Faber found an uncovered Brodzinski, who made no mistake and found the back of the net for his sixth time this season.
Brodzinski has 11 points through the Gophers first 16 games.
Then on Saturday night, Pitlick passed the puck to Aaron Hughlen in the slot, but instead of trying to shoot it with two ASU players close by, Hughlen made a nice backhand pass to Pitlick, who drove to the net and tipped it past Semptimphelter.
Pitlick’s point total is up to 10 (5G and 5A), and he has four goals in his past four games after scoring three against Michigan last weekend.
The Brock Faber Snipe
Down 3-2 in the second period on Saturday night, Faber skated to the high slot and ripped one top shelf, blocker-side past Semptimphelter to tie the game.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why we love Brock. pic.twitter.com/tjLWjhYYtC— Minnesota Men’s Hockey (@GopherHockey) November 27, 2022
The Minnesota Wild defensive prospect is up to 11 points on the year, behind only Jackson LaCombe’s 15 points, which leads Gopher defensemen.
The Gophers head to Michigan to play Michigan State next weekend for their last out-of-state series in this calendar year.