Snuggerud leads Gophers past Ohio State 4-2

Two late goals in the second period, 63 seconds apart, lifted the No. 1 Minnesota men’s hockey team to a 4-2 road win in Big Ten Conference action Saturday from Value City Arena.

Jimmy Snuggerud produced a three-point performance recording a goal and two assists, while Jackson LaCombe continued his scoring touch, delivering a goal and an assist for the Maroon and Gold in its first road win of the season.

After the Golden Gophers (5-3-0, 1-1-0 B1G) were whistled for an early infraction, they generated the best chance of the opening minutes as Matthew Knies came streaking down the left wing and fired a shorthanded shot on target. The visitors killed off the penalty aided by blocked shots and tallied six blocks in the contest’s first five minutes. For the second-straight night, it was LaCombe that opened the scoring for Minnesota as his shot from the point found its way through bodies in the slot, pushing his team to a 1-0 advantage. OSU (7-2-1, 3-1-0 B1G) was whistled for a penalty on the play and the Gophers headed to a power play, looking to extend the lead, but the Buckeyes were able to get the tying goal with a shorthanded breakaway, making it 1-1 at intermission.

Both teams had shortened power-play opportunities beginning the second stanza and each goaltender came up with timely saves to keep things knotted at one. Minnesota found itself on the man advantage two more times in the middle of the frame and got multiple looks at the go-ahead tally from Jaxon Nelson before a shooting gallery from LaCombe and Snuggerud ensued. OSU stood tall and weathered the pressure until Mason Nevers broke the deadlock with 4:22 remaining in the second, feeding off the power-play energy. The junior found himself alone in front of the net and one-timed home a rebound after Nelson fired a wide-angle attempt that kicked into the slot.

The Gophers made it a two-goal cushion just 63 seconds later taking advantage of a strong forecheck where they forced a turnover in the offensive zone. Snuggerud grabbed a rebound in the left corner off a shot by Luke Mittelstadt and found Knies, who patiently held the puck at the bottom of the circle before burying his fifth goal of the year, building a 3-1 lead.

Minnesota was forced to kill a critical penalty 2:39 into the final frame to maintain the edge and extended its lead thanks to a Snuggerud power-play marker. The freshman ripped a one-timer to the far corner off a perfect feed from LaCombe. Nelson appeared to make it a 5-1 advantage with less than six minutes to play, but the goal was reviewed and overturned on an offside call, while the Buckeyes also were whistled for a five-minute major for kneeing at the same time. The Gophers closed out the road victory, 4-2, after OSU scored its second shorthanded goal of the night.

Justen Close earned his fourth win of the year turning aside 20 shots, while his team blocked a total of 14 in front of him. Minnesota turned in a 32-22 margin in shots and got points from nine different players.