Columbus, Ohio – After upsetting No. 2 Ohio State in the first game of their series, the Gophers appeared headed for a road sweep on Saturday after scoring the game's first three goals.
Not so fast. The Buckeyes rallied, getting within a goal twice, before Minnesota won by a 4-3 score for the second consecutive game at Value City Arena. "A big, big win for us," Gophers coach Bob Motzko said in a postgame radio interview. "… Tonight had a little bit of the good, the bad and the ugly, a lot of good though."
Senior captain Tyler Sheehy got the eventual game-winner at 8 minutes, 47 seconds of the third period. It put the Gophers ahead 4-2. Ever so briefly. Ronnie Hein answered for OSU just 1:11 later to make it a one-goal game again.
Mat Robson, getting his first start of the weekend, didn't let any other pucks past him. He finished with 43 saves, 20 in the third period alone.
Was this his best game? "In a while," Motzko said. "It really helped Eric Schierhorn played so well the first game. It was [Robson's] turn. That's the way he took it."
Tommy Nappier's workload in Ohio State's net was a lot easier. He stopped 12 shots and saw only two in the final period.
The Gophers made things difficult for Nappier right after the opening faceoff. Scott Reedy, who got the winner on Friday, scored 20 seconds into the game. Nathan Burke then made it 2-0 in the ninth minute of play. Brent Gates Jr.'s 12th goal of the season put the Gophers ahead 3-0 in the seventh minute of the middle period.
Two power-play goals got OSU within 3-2 before the period was over. Mason Jobst started the rally, scoring 61 seconds after Gates. Carson Meyer got the second power-play goal with 2:53 left in the second.
"We made two real big mistakes on the penalty kill and that got Ohio State back in the game," Motzko said. "For long stretches things were going fine, but we don't make things easy for us. … [But] Robson was there to bail us out."
After the goals by Sheehy and Hein in the middle of the third, the Gophers held on to their 4-3 lead despite having to kill a tripping penalty called with 2:19 left. The Buckeyes swarmed the net and hit a crossbar, but Robson stopped everything until, just after the final horn, Meyer put the puck in the net. The referee vehemently waved off the goal immediately.
A win for the Buckeyes would have clinched them their first Big Ten title on the ice.
Instead, Minnesota finishes 2-0-2 against Ohio State in their regular-season series and OSU's celebration is on hold. The Buckeyes only need two points in their final four conference games to clinch the title.