Gophers earn point, close first half w/ shootout loss at Ohio State

Aaron Huglen scored the lone goal in a 1-1 tie for the No. 10/9 Golden Gophers men’s hockey team at Ohio State Saturday night at Value City Arena.

The Golden Gophers (9-5-4 overall, 5-4-3 B1G) overcame an early deficit on the road to earn a draw, while the Buckeyes (5-8-4 overall, 0-8-2 B1G) picked up an extra Big Ten Conference point by winning the shootout.

The home side took a 1-0 lead 3:33 into the contest, capitalizing on a Minnesota turnover below its own goal line. The Gophers responded with a strong offensive push and tested OSU’s freshman netminder in his first collegiate start but was whistled for a penalty with under eight minutes remaining during the period. The visitors erased the Buckeyes’ man advantage and went to the locker room facing a one-goal deficit despite limiting the opposition to just five shots on goal.

Less than two minutes after the puck was dropped for the second stanza, the Maroon and Gold had a power play of its own that was killed by OSU. Momentum stayed with Minnesota, and it struck for the tying goal at the 10:05 mark as Ryan Chesley sent a stretch pass up the middle of the ice for Aaron Huglen. The junior fought off a Buckeye defender that was draped on his back and slid a shot under the goalie’s pads for a 1-1 tie. Jaxon Nelson nearly put the Gophers in front as his shot caught the right post and needed a clutch save from Justen Close in the final minute to keep the score even through two periods.

Minnesota opened the final frame on the attack and put four shots on target over the first three minutes until a penalty stopped the pressure. During the OSU man advantage, it was Nelson that created the best chance as the fifth-year senior started a rush up the wing and watched his shot from the right circle ricochet off the crossbar. Moments after Close delivered a point-blank save in the middle of the period, Huglen had an opportunity on the offensive end but lifted his backhand over the net.

Neither side could find a goal in the final stages of regulation, forcing overtime. In the extra period, the Buckeyes maintained most of the possession and fired five shots on target before the game pushed into a shootout. OSU scored on its first chance, while all three Gophers failed to convert, and the home team claimed the extra point for the league standings in a 1-1 tie.

Huglen net his third goal of the season and first since Nov. 4 at Minnesota Duluth … Chesley picked up his fourth assist this year and sixth total point … Close ended the night with 29 saves, including five during the overtime session … The one goal scored for the Maroon and Gold Saturday tied a season low as they also scored once at No. 5 North Dakota back on Oct. 21 … The Gophers are now 0-3-3 in games when trailing after one period this season … Minnesota dropped to 0-4 in shootouts during the 2023-24 campaign and are 4-18 all-time in the event.

Next Up: Home vs. USNTDP U18’s (Jan. 1)
The Gophers return to the ice following an extended holiday break when they face the USA Hockey National Team Development Program U18 squad for a New Year’s Day matinee inside 3M Arena at Mariucci. The exhibition tilt is slated for puck drop at 2 p.m. with video coverage on B1G+.

Courtesy: University of Minnesota Sports Information