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MINNEAPOLIS — Scoring was inevitable in the Big Ten-opening series between No. 11 Minnesota and No. 10 Ohio State.
The Gophers won a firewagon opener on Friday 5-3, riding the coat tails of their top two scorers, Tyler Sheehy and Leon Bristedt, who each scored twice.
The high-flying Buckeyes and their second-ranked scoring offense had other ideas for Saturday’s outcome, scoring early and often en route to an 8-3 victory.
“It’s a great feeling coming into a great team’s barn and winning,” Buckeyes coach Steve Rohlik said.
The Buckeyes looked for a momentum switch and Rohlik started Christian Frey in net, who relieved fellow senior Matt Tompkins in Friday’s game.
“It’s huge for us to come out and beat a good Minnesota team,” said senior Nick Schilkey. “It’s my first win up here.”
Despite some lineup changes for both teams on Saturday, the series finale was no more defensive-minded than the opener. Buckeyes sophomore Mason Jobst wasted no time in getting the scoring going on Saturday, tallying his fourth goal of the season less than a minute in.
Jobst’s goal was followed by a second Ohio State goal off the stick of blueliner Tommy Parran, who jumped into the play to beat Minnesota’s Eric Schierhorn with a rebound goal.
“We’ve got four lines that can play,” said senior Drew Brevig. “Experience and some young guys stepping up.”
The Buckeyes’ lead was short-lived, as goals from Sheehy and the first of freshman Ryan Lindgren’s career tied the contest before the end of the first period. Sheehy scored again for the Gophers in the third period.
“We’re upset,” said Sheehy. “We’ve got to forget about this one.”
Early in the second period, off the initial draw on a power play for a Bristedt interference call, the always-dangerous Schilkey (106 career points entering) went top-shelf to beat Schierhorn. Less than a minute later, Schilkey fed Jobst, who made Schierhorn look pedestrian, for his second goal of the night.
“Our depth continues to show,” said Rohlik. “We have leaders, confidence and this team expects to win.”
After allowing four goals on nine shots, Schierhorn made way for sophomore Nick Lehr, making only his second appearance of the season for the Gophers. Lehr was tested early and beat by Buckeyes freshman Tanner Laczynski, giving Ohio State a three-goal lead.
Neither Gophers netminder could get comfortable between the pipes, as senior defenseman Josh Healey scored on a rebound of a Jobst shot to give the Buckeyes a four-goal lead.
Minnesota coach Don Lucia, looking for a resistance, re-entered Schierhorn. Tempers began to flare at the midway point of the game, as a 10-player scrum ensued after a Schierhorn save. Matching penalties continued the remainder of the period and the Gophers lost Bristedt to a game misconduct for grasping the facemask late in the second.
While Frey and his defensive core shut down the Gophers in the final frame, the Buckeyes’ offense continued to pour it on as senior David Gust took advantage of another Lindgren penalty for his 30th career goal. Sasha Larocque added his first goal of the season in the third period.
Ohio State continues to find early season success that it is unaccustomed to and has garnered its share of national attention.
“We’ll continue to play with the high-powered, Big Ten offenses,” said Schilkey. “We’re going to tighten up defensively as well.”
Omaha 7, Wisconsin 4
Austin Ortega had three goals and an assist for the Mavericks in Madison, Wis., while Jake Randolph had two goals and an assist. Luke Kunin scored twice for the Badgers.