Jan. 18, 2014
MINNEAPOLIS - The top-ranked Minnesota men's hockey team used a natural hat trick by junior winger Sam Warning to erase a 2-0 deficit en route to a 4-2 triumph over Ohio State on Hockey Day Minnesota at Mariucci Arena Saturday evening. Warning became the first Gopher to record three consecutive goals since Jay Barriball accomplished the feat Oct. 9, 2010 in a 5-4 opening-weekend win over Massachusetts.
The sweep-clinching victory improved the Gophers all-time record on Hockey Day Minnesota to 5-2-1 and upped the team's record against the Buckeyes to 14-1-0. Minnesota is now 17-2-3 with a 7-0-1-0 Big Ten conference mark and sits in first place by 10 points.
Despite carrying play in the opening frame, the Gophers were unable to score the game's first goal. After Minnesota's Christian Isackson and Michael Brodzinski rang one-timers off the iron in the game's first 5:08, OSU's Nick Oddo opened the scoring midway though the period by deflecting home a Justin Dasliva point shot.
Ohio State cushioned its lead at 14:16 when a Drew Brevig power-play shot from the blue line made its way through traffic and in, but Warning answered just 24 seconds later, crashing the net to tip home a Mike Reilly pass to pot his first goal of the night and trim the Gophers' deficit.
After edging the visitors 16-7 in shots in the first, Minnesota was opportunistic in the second and stole the lead even though it was outshot 15-7 in the period.
Warning wasted little time knotting the score in the middle stanza, slapping a Nate Condon feed past OSU netminder Christian Frey just 94 ticks in. The Chesterfield, Mo. native then gave the Gophers the lead for good, whacking a loose puck into the back of the net from just outside the goalmouth at 8:42.
OSU's Alex Szczechura slid a shot off the post from point-blank range with 8:29 left in second and a Brodzinski breakaway attempt out of the penalty box was denied by Frey just over two minutes later to hold the score at 3-2 heading into the third period.
For the second night in a row, Minnesota held the Buckeyes to just five shots in the final 20 minutes and Gopher goaltender Adam Wilcox held down the fort between the pipes to salvage the win. This time, however, junior forward Seth Ambroz picked off an Ohio State breakout pass in the offensive zone and roofed a quick shot to give Minnesota an insurance goal. Ambroz and Warning are now tied for the team lead in goals with 10.
Wilcox finished the night with 25 saves and Condon and Reilly had two helpers apiece. Warning's hat trick was the first of his career and gave him five goals in his last three games.
The Gophers resume play Friday at 7 p.m. against No. 3 St. Cloud at the Xcel Energy Center in the inaugural North Star College Cup. Minnesota State and Minnesota Duluth will play each other in the other semifinal matchup.
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