Ohio State topples top-ranked Gophers men’s hockey team 6-4

The No. 1 Minnesota men’s hockey team was unable to hold off No. 11 Ohio State Friday night suffering a 6-4 setback inside Value City Arena in its first Big Ten Conference game of the year.

Facing a two-goal deficit in the second period, the Golden Gophers (4-3-0 overall, 0-1-0 B1G) fought back getting within one, 3-2, but three unanswered goals for the nationally-ranked Buckeyes (7-1-1 overall, 3-0-0 B1G) handed the Maroon and Gold its second-straight loss. Bryce Brodzinski and John Mittelstadt scored in the final 10 minutes, but the deficit was too large to overcome. It was the first collegiate goal for the freshman Mittelstadt coming with just 15 seconds to play.

Neither side generated much pressure in the early stages as both teams tried to find their legs with only two stoppages in play during the opening six minutes. Jackson LaCombe was in the perfect spot near the Gophers’ net swiping away a potential OSU goal and that led to a late surge from Minnesota’s top line, putting quality chances on target. An unfortunate bounce on a Buckeyes’ centering pass snuck in as the home side took a 1-0 edge at the 14:16 mark and held the lead at intermission.

It only took 90 seconds into the second period for the Gophers to even the score as LaCombe hammered a shot from the point, high glove side. Aaron Huglen won an offensive-zone faceoff straight to Mason Nevers, who dished it to LaCombe at the blue line and the senior buried his second goal of the season. The tie game was erased as the Buckeyes scored on their first and only man advantage of the night, 7:48 into the frame, getting a shot from the point through traffic.

After Minnesota found opportunities around the OSU goal looking for the tying tally, it was the home side that stretched the margin to two just 1:12 later. A nifty play from Brody Lamb in the slot pulled the Gophers within one as he ripped a shot through the goaltender’s legs making it 3-2. The freshman toe-dragged around the Buckeyes defender and found a slim opening, all he needed for his quick release. The scoring frenzy continued almost immediately as a Minnesota defender lost his edge in the corner and OSU pounced on the loose puck regaining its two-goal cushion, 4-2, through two complete frames.

Two minutes into the final stanza, the Buckeyes added another goal via a redirected puck in the slot. The Gophers were limited to shots from the perimeter as the hosts clogged the middle of the ice before pushing the lead to 6-2. Brodzinski put away his second of the year as the Maroon and Gold made a late push with 8:06 remaining after Jaxon Nelson’s wraparound attempt fell loose in the crease. Mittelstadt swatted home his first goal as a Gopher, closing the night with a 6-4 score line as his younger brother, John, picked up the lone assist.