St. Paul – One team had something to play for, the other didn’t.
That’s how much of tonight’s B1G Semifinal matchup felt between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Minnesota showed flashes of their typical game, but the Buckeyes prevailed to advance to the B1G Championship game thanks to a Ryan Dzingel 3rd period game winner.
Minnesota and Ohio State played a fairly even first period, with the Gophers garnering the majority of the scoring chances. Sam Warning hit the post on a Gopher powerplay about halfway through the period, but it was Ohio State that would take the first lead of the game. Ohio State took advantage of their lone full powerplay in the opening frame, as Nick Schilkey found the back of the net on a backdoor play at 15:20. Although the Gophers led the shots 12-8 after the first, the Buckeyes led 1-0 on the scoreboard, and Minnesota was lucky it wasn’t 2-0, as the puck took a funny bounce off the endboards and caromed off of Wilcox’s arm and through his legs. The clock wound down just before Ohio State could coax the puck across the line.
The Gophers would tie the game early in the second period on a powerplay of their own. Kyle Rau tapped in a Taylor Cammarata pass into a wide-open net on the backdoor at 4:47 of the period to knot the game at 1-1. Travis Boyd earned the first assist on the Rau goal. Minnesota took a few more penalties in the middle of the period, but the penalty kill held firm, and the Gophers picked up the pace as the period wore on. Minnesota had a few quality chances in the tail end of the period, but the second would end at that same 1-1 score.
Minnesota and Ohio State played a tight third period; Ohio State with its season on the line, Minnesota wanting to tune up for the upcoming NCAA Tournament. Ohio State’s desire trumped Minnesota’s will, with the Buckeyes’ Ryan Dzingel scoring the game winning goal at 9:08 of the third period. The Buckeyes would add an empty netter with less than a minute left to seal the win.
Ohio State advances to the B1G Championship Game tomorrow night against the Wisconsin Badgers, with both teams playing for something – the Buckeyes for a chance to extend their season and make the NCAA Tournament, the Badgers for a likely #1 seed in the NCAAs. The puck drops Saturday at 7:00.
The Gophers next game will be at the Xcel Energy Center next Saturday, as the Gophers will be the #1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament and will play as the #1 seed in the West Regional. They will have to wait until this Sunday's selection show to find out who they'll face off against.
Notes & Quotes:
Final Shots on Goal: 31-25 Minnesota
Specialty Teams: Minnesota 1 for 3, 3 shots total. Ohio State 1-5, 6 shots total.
Kyle Rau: “Ohio State outplayed us.”
Travis Boyd: “This is the last two years that we kind of laid an egg on a Friday. We had good chances to win the game in the third, but we need to play that way for all three periods.”
Don Lucia: “I told the guys in the locker room that this is our last chance at a learning experience.” On playoff hockey: “You have to deliver pucks to the net when you get opportunities. You don’t get a lot of opportunities this time of year. I thought there were a few times when some of our freshmen didn’t quite understand that, but we’ll go back and look at the video and have a good week of practice.”
Ohio State Coach Steve Rohlik, on winning three games in three nights: “I told my guys that it’s doable. I’ve seen it happen before [as UMD’s Assistant Coach when they won the Final Five in 2009].”
Ohio State forward Ryan Dzingel, on the NCAA Tournament: “It’s in the back of my mind obviously, but we’re trying to take it one game at a time and play our game.”