Gophers top Michigan 4-2 for 20th win of the season

The No. 3 Gopher men’s hockey program closed out the regular-season with a 4-2 win over No. 7 Michigan on Saturday night at 3M Arena at Mariucci – becoming the first team in the country to win 20 games this season.

Minnesota (20-6-0 overall, 16-6-0-0-0-0 Big Ten) found goals from four different skaters including sophomore defenseman Ryan Johnson, who tallied his first career goal for the Maroon & Gold to close out the night.

Meanwhile, Hobey Baker Award and Mike Richter Award candidate Jack LaFontaine (18-6-0) picked up his NCAA-leading 18th win for the Gophers, making 22 saves on 24 shots. The senior has now allowed two goals or fewer in 24 of his last 28 starts dating back to the end of the 2019-20 campaign. Strauss Mann (10-8-1) took the loss for Michigan with 23 saves on 26 shots.

Bryce Brodzinski opened the night’s scoring with his seventh of the year at 16:25 of the first period – finding the net for the second game in a row as the sophomore has now tied his freshman total for points and goals with 12 and seven, respectively. The forward, who was set up on the goal by Sammy Walker and Blake McLaughlin, also matched his career long point streak with contributions in each of the last three games. Michigan (14-9-1, 11-9-0-1-0-0) answered back with its first goal of the night at 17:20.

The second period saw the home squad snap a power-play goal drought with Scott Reedy’s ninth goal of the year at 11:36 as the senior forward set a new career high with his 24th point of the season. Brannon McManus and Jackson LaCombe earned assists on the goal. Early in the next period, McLaughlin scored seconds after a Minnesota power play ended for his 10th of the year at 3:39. LaCombe and Walker picked up assists as all three Gophers involved in the play ended the night with two-point performances. Minnesota officially ended the night 1-for-2 on the power player and 3-for-3 on the penalty kill.

After Michigan brought the game back to within one late in the period, Johnson put the game away with his first goal in 59 career games as a Gopher with an empty-net tally at 18:23.

The Gophers held a 27-24 advantage on shots for the game.

The Maroon & Gold head into the postseason next week with the 2021 Big Ten Men’s Ice Hockey Tournament at Compton Family Ice Arena in Notre Dame, Ind. The three-day event runs from Sunday, March 14 through Tuesday, March 16 with all games televised by the Big Ten Network. The No. 2 seed in the tournament, Minnesota begins tournament play against No. 7 seed Michigan State on Sunday, March 14 at 3 p.m. CT.