Saturday, March 8, 2014

Gophers Lead Late, but Lose in Shootout in Columbus

Columbus – After holding a lead for all but 3 of the first 56 minutes, the Gophers all but had their hands around the first ever B1G regular season title.

A late Buckeye goal and another poor shootout performance later, Minnesota (24-4-6 Overall, 13-2-3-0 B1G) was a point short of clinching a share of the B1G title, and will need at least two points in Ann Arbor next weekend to guarantee themselves the B1G championship.

Saturday night’s game got off to another great start for the Gophers, as Minnesota got an early powerplay and capitalized, with Kyle Rau collecting a rebound on the short side and sliding it past OSU goalie Christian Frey.  Mike Reilly and Travis Boyd assisted on the goal at 2:32.  The Gophers thought they had doubled their lead in the first period when Tom Serratore dented the twine, but the goal was disallowed due to Gabe Guertler interfering with the goaltender.

The Gophers ended the first with a 1-0 lead, and after an uneventful second period the teams started the third at that same 1-0 score.  Mike Reilly took an early penalty and the Buckeyes capitalized, as Ohio State’s leading scorer Ryan Dzingel scored his 18th of the year to knot the game at 1-1 just 2:31 into the third.  Minnesota responded only 24 seconds later when Gabe Guertler deflected a Ben Marshall shot from the left point past OSU’s Frey to give the Gophers another lead.

The B1G title was in their grasp, but Ohio State had other ideas, scoring with 3:50 left in the third period to tie the game at 2-2.  Minnesota could still clinch the title with an overtime win, but Ohio State had the better of the chances in the OT, and Adam Wilcox had to stop a Ryan Dzingel breakaway to guarantee Minnesota a point for surviving the five-minute overtime period.  Ohio State scored on their first shootout shot and Rau, Cammarata and Guertler were stoned by Frey, and the Buckeyes skated away with the extra point for the shootout victory.

The shootout loss means that the Gophers are one point away from clinching a share of the B1G regular season title, and two away from clinching outright.  The Gophers will need two points in Michigan next weekend (or a Wisconsin shootout loss, regulation loss, or two shootout wins next weekend at Michigan State) to secure the first ever B1G crown.

Minnesota faces off against the Michigan Wolverines Friday at 5:30 PM Central.

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