The Minnesota Gophers (8-2, 13-5) hockey team fell to fourth in the USHO poll while ranking top in the nation in the USA Hockey poll ahead of their series this weekend. They responded this weekend for their third straight week by beating Michigan State (5-4-1, 11-6-1) before ending the calendar year at home to Wisconsin next weekend.
The Gophers defeated the Spartans 5-0 on Friday night before winning 6-3 on Saturday night. It was two solid games for Minnesota, who persevered despite pressure from the Spartans in Saturday’s third period. It was an offensive clinic for the Gophers on the series, with 11 different players scoring a point over the weekend. And they’ve had a lot of success in Michigan this season between Michigan and Michigan State, going 4-0 and surpassing them 22-8.
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1. Brock Faber had a one-goal, three-assist weekend against the Spartans. Despite his status as a shutdown defender, he’s been very flashy offensively this season, proving he’s capable of both.
On Saturday night, after Jackson fed the puck to LaCombe Faber, he ran to the right circle where he found Matthew Knies for a detour and gave the Gophers a 4-0 lead.
It’s just an example of him being active in the offensive zone and not afraid to make plays like a one dimensional defensive back. Faber then scored in the third period to give the Gophers a 6-3 lead when he shot the puck out of the right circle and deflected it off a Spartans player’s skate into back net.
The junior captain has three goals and 15 points in 18 games. That’s a point more than his total points from last season, and it’s a little more than halfway through the season.
2. Bryce Brodzinski scored twice in that series, and the first was a snipe on Friday night, arguably the weekend’s best goal. After Mason Nevers passed him the puck, Brodzinski ran into the left circle and shot one up past Dylan St. Cyr on his glove side.
Brodzinski scored his second goal of the series on a second-half breakaway on Saturday night, beating St. Cyr by five holes for his eighth goal of the season. Brodzinski is up to 13 points on an annual basis.
3. The Gophers’ star-recruitment duo continue to produce. On Friday night Cooley went to the net and Nevers found him and Cooley made no mistake and hit St Cyr with the glove side just above the crease.
Good things happen when you go online, they say, and that’s exactly right.
On Saturday night, the duo managed a rare 2v0 break that saw Snuggerud find the back of the net in the defending zone after a great defensive break from Faber. There was no chance for St. Cyr to save this powerful redemption from Snuggerud.
Those two also linked for a goal on Friday night when Cooley found the puck up front, seated by St Cyr, delivered by Snuggerud’s shot from the left point. Snuggerud is tied with Knies for the team lead in goals (11), while Cooley is just two points behind Snuggerud’s 23 points as the team lead with 21 points.
4. Justen Close – just as he has been all season – dominated in a series highlighted by the Gophers’ scoring. Close recorded his sixth shutout of the season in Friday night’s win, stopping all 25 shots.
He had one of his biggest saves of the series on Saturday night when he barely got his block to the left to stop an all-around attempt.
This is like Close How it comes.
Close stopped 65 of 68 shots this weekend for a .956 percentage after his performance of 40 saves on Saturday night.
Rhett Pitlick scored his sixth goal of the season on Friday night and Aaron Hughlen picked up his sixth point of the season. Jaxon Nelson had a goal and an assist on Saturday night and Luke Mittelstadt registered two assists. Mason Nevers had a four-point weekend (1G, 3A) while LaCombe added three assists to his season total.