Gophers advance to Big Ten tournament title game, improve NCAA tournament status with shutout over Ohio State, read Friday night's game story.
Adam Wilcox claimed a share of the program's all-time shutouts record with an effort more than worthy of this prestigious honor. The Gophers junior goaltender fended off each of Ohio State's 39 shot attempts, of which at least five would have likely hit the net on an average night, in a 3-0 victory.
It was Wilcox's best effort of the season and one of the best of his career, hinting that the Gophers goalie is peaking at the right time. Now he has another program record to build some momentum off of.
"It's a pretty cool feeling any time you get up there [in the record books]. That was a big number. Creating the goal for 13 [shutouts] seemed like a while away. But when you have a good defensive core and a good team every year, you get opportunities to get shutouts," Wilcox said.
"The main thing for me was holding my ground and making sure I'm at a good depth. I worked with [goaltender coach] Justin Johnson all week on getting the angles and having my feet set and not getting too aggressive and too out there. There were a lot of weird bounces tonight. Fortunately, they were on our side."
It was Wilcox's second shutout in the last three games and his sixth this season. He is now one win away from tying Robb Stauber for third all-time in program history with 73 wins in net.
"We hope that Adam can continue to look as sharp as he did tonight, because I think that was as sharp as he's looked this year," Gophers coach Don Lucia said. "I mean, really in control, and big, and patient in the net."
Wilcox made up for the Gophers' defensive letdown in the third period, and Ben Marshall and Vinni Lettieri came through with an important goal at a pivotal point late in the game.
Ohio State outshot the Gophers 22-8 in the third period and 39-23 for the game, but any good sequence the Buckeyes put together was thwarted by Wilcox.
"Coxy played unbelievable and we were able to find a way to win and move on," Gophers senior forward Seth Ambroz said. "We kind of sat back a little bit [in the third period], which wasn't what we wanted to do. But we got a big goal at the big point in the game. ... Tomorrow we gotta come back with even a better effort."
Reaction from Ohio State
Coach Steve Rohlik: I can't ask for much more out of our team today. They gave me everything they've got. Twenty-two shots in the third period, this team is relentless. ... The bounces, it is what it is. Minnesota did the job and go the job done tonight. But, again, I'm awfully proud of our team.
Senior forward Matt Johnson (Stillwater, Minn., native): Both teams were playing desperate, but I didn't focus too much on what they were doing. I was more concerned about how we needed to play. We wanted to determine the game on how we play and control the game. So, yeah, they were desperate, but so were we."
There were several conference tournament upsets on Friday, including St. Cloud State beating North Dakota and Harvard beating Quinnipiac. Check out the college hockey scoreboard and the most recent PairWise rankings. The Gophers jumped to No. 10 after Friday's results and enter Saturday's Big Ten tournament championship game with a better shot at an at-large bid into the NCAA tournament even if they lose.
Friday’s box score.
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Gophers postgame press conference
Gophers senior forward Seth Ambroz