Gophers’ men’s hockey scores three in third, taking them to 4-2 – The Minnesota Daily
Senior captain Sammy Walker scored two goals, while sophomore Mason Nevers and freshman Matthew Knies scored the other two goals for the Gophers.
Posted on November 21, 2021
The Gophers’ men’s hockey team (8-6) scored three goals in the third period en route to a 4-2 victory over Penn State on Saturday night to divide the series.
“[We had] a lot more details tonight, ”said Gophers head coach Bob Motzko. “I think we played a really good game in the last half of the second and third periods. “
The increased attention to detail has helped fuel the Gophers. Minnesota’s shorthand was a perfect 4-4 and their power play scored two goals in four attempts.
After their 5-3 loss on Friday in Game 1 of the series, Motzko made changes to all of his front lines except the fourth line. Senior Sammy Walker went from center to right wing for the first time this season, while junior Ben Meyers centered freshmen Matthew Knies and Chaz Lucius on the front row which produced an early attack and in before.
The front row accounted for five of the Gophers’ nine shots in the game’s first scoreless period, and their shorthand kill a hook penalty for Junior Jackson LaCombe.
“They were exceptional at the start,” Motzko said from the front row. “We can see it coming, especially with the big guy [Knies] to the left and this center [Meyers], they’ve been together for a while. Lucius had great luck both nights.
Penn State’s Jimmy Dowd Jr. scored the game’s first goal 5:45 seconds into the second period after firing a loose puck that ricocheted off the back window from the bottom of the right circle.
However, the Gophers quickly responded. LaCombe performed a heads-up, sending a bank pass from the left defensive corner onto the right boards near the Penn State blue line. Walker picked up the puck in stride, made his way to the right face-off point and fired a shot into the upper right corner of the net to tie the game at 1-1 with 8:09 to go. in the second.
“When LaCombe got this [puck], I jumped to the far blue line, ”Walker said. “We made eye contact and he had a great pass off the boards and luckily, [my shot] entered.
Before scoring, Walker took a nasty blow. Motzko later defended him just 48 seconds after the tying goal, but received a minor bench. The Gophers would kill that team penalty, along with another in the opening minutes of the period, to keep the game tied at 1-1 heading into the second intermission.
“I never liked being touched,” Walker said. “But I think we all had an advantage tonight and we’ve learned to play like that in every game.”
Early in the third period, rookie Aaron Huglen was tripped in the attacking zone. The Gophers made their second power play of the night, 4:14 seconds into the third period, chasing a decisive power play goal as they failed to capitalize on their first in the first period.
Just 43 seconds from the power play, Meyers passed Knies over the goal line. Then he recovered the puck and fired a low-angle, sharp shot into the back of the net to give the Gophers a 2-1 lead with 15:03 remaining at the end of the game.
Penn State’s Kevin Wall tied the game at 2-2 with 7:36 remaining. However, the Nittany Lions were quick to take two penalties 23 seconds apart and the Gophers were left with a 5-3 advantage for 1:37 seconds.
The Gophers’ power play got back to work and enjoyed it again just after Penn State’s first penalty expired. Sophomore Brock Faber circled the top of the left circle and fired a shot towards the goal. As the puck neared the front of the Nittany Lions’ goal, second student Mason Nevers deflected it towards the back of the net to give the Gophers a 3-2 lead with 5:11 seconds left.
“You kind of notice an important moment,” Nevers said. “If they are successful in killing, it’s kind of a big change in momentum. We knew we had to do our job and score a goal, and we did.
To close the Gophers’ 4-2 win, Walker scored his second goal of the night on a Knies effort to knock him out into the empty net.
Knies’ two-point night (one goal, one assist) brings his point tally to 14 this season, as he now has nine of those points in his last five games. He and Walker lead the team with seven goals apiece. LaCombe also had two assists. Graduate student Jack LaFontaine made 35 saves.
Next weekend, the Gophers travel to Grand Forks, North Dakota to face North Dakota on Friday, November 26 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, November 27 at 6 p.m. at the Ralph Engelstad Arena.