March 21, 2014
MINNEAPOLIS (GopherSports.com) – Despite outshooting Ohio State and producing more high-quality scoring chances, No. 1 Minnesota fell 3-1 on Friday night in the semifinals of the inaugural Big Ten Men’s Ice Hockey Tournament at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn.
The Gophers (25-6-6, 14-4-3-0) controlled the first 15 minutes after the opening faceoff and generated several good looks at the net. Those included Tom Serratore intercepting a pass at the Ohio State (18-13-5, 8-9-5-4) blue line and firing a wrister from the top of the slot, Taylor Cammarata charging down the left side and trying to stuff a shot through goaltender Christian Frey’s pads and Kyle Rau, while camped out in the slot, redirecting a Travis Boyd shot from the point. None of those chances produced a goal for the Gophers, however, and momentum shifted in favor of the Buckeyes following a Gopher penalty at 15:05. Ohio State quickly capitalized on the man advantage when Tanner Fritz fired a pass from the left faceoff dot through the crease. As Adam Wilcox moved across the net, Nick Schilkey redirected the puck into the back of the net, scoring at 15:20 to give the Buckeyes a 1-0 lead.
The first period ended with an odd sequence. Anthony Greco closed in on Wilcox from the right side before shooting wide. The puck caromed off the back boards and somehow found the back of Wilcox’s leg. The puck rolled up his leg and then slid along the goal line almost the entire width of the goal. Max McCormick popped the puck into the open net but replay confirmed the clock had expired just moments earlier, ending the first period with Ohio State leading by one.
After killing off 51 seconds of a holdover penalty from the first, Minnesota created its own opportunity up a man. Following an elbowing call on Chad Niddery at 1:20, Hudson Fasching tried to tuck the puck past Frey on the near post off a nice feed from Rau, but Frey was up to the task and made the save. The Gophers had a second chance on the power play shortly after as Drew Brevig was sent off for slashing at 3:55. Midway through that advantage, Travis Boyd found Cammarata coming down the left-side boards near the faceoff dot. Cammarata kept the puck moving with a crisp pass to Rau, who was waiting on the back post and tapped the tying goal past Frey.
The Gopher penalty-killers came up big to keep the game tied through the mid-point of the second by killing off two consecutive minor penalties that essentially created a four-minute power play for the Buckeyes. Those kills appeared to energize the Gophers, who produced several strong chances, including two for Boyd, an in-close shot from Cammarata and a clean break for Justin Kloos inside the Ohio State zone, which ended with Frey fighting off the shot from his right, a save that kept the game tied going into the third.
As it had in the previous two periods, Minnesota dominated play out of the locker room but was unable to score the go-ahead goal. A too many men on the ice penalty five minutes into the period slowed the Gopher attack and, shortly after that penalty expired, Tyler Lundey won a battle in the corner in Minnesota’s end and passed to Ryan Dzingel at the top of the slot. Dzingel launched a shot that appeared to be going wide to Wilcox’s left but deflected off a defender’s stick and popped inside the post to put Ohio State ahead 2-1.
Now down one, the Gophers seized control of the game yet again. Minnesota kept the puck in the Ohio State zone for several minutes, producing a collection of quality shots, most notably Sam Warning ripping a wrist shot across the goal from Frey’s left that rang off the far post.
Shortly after that onslaught, with seven minutes remaining, a scrum in front of the Ohio State net ended with the puck disappearing among bodies in the crease and re-emerging in the back of the net, though it sounded like the referee’s whistle blew prior to the puck appearing behind Frey. Called no-goal on the ice, the play went under review. Replay confirmed that Seth Ambroz did put the puck in the net, but with his glove, so the no-goal call stood.
Ohio State sealed the game in the final minute, just seconds after Wilcox vacated the net for an extra Minnesota skater. Greco scored on the open net from center ice at 19:33 to seal the victory for the Buckeyes.
The Gophers return to action next week as the hosts of the NCAA West Regional at Xcel Energy Center. The Gophers will find out who else will be coming to St. Paul this Sunday at 11 a.m. CT when the NCAA selection show airs on ESPNU.
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