The No. 4 Gopher men’s hockey team is off to its best start in more than 30 years after improving to 7-0-0 with a 3-1 win over No. 5 Michigan on Tuesday night. Sampo Ranta, Bryce Brodzinski and Ben Meyers scored for Minnesota while Jack LaFontaine picked up his first win over his former team and also earned his first career assist as an added bonus.
The Gophers (7-0-0 overall, 7-0-0-0-0-0 Big Ten) have yet to trail in 2020-21, thanks largely to the play of LaFontaine in goal. The senior alternate captain (7-0-0) has now won nine-straight games for Minnesota dating back to last season after a 33-save performance on Tuesday. The NCAA leader in wins this season has allowed two goals or fewer in each of his last 12 starts. After a scoreless first period, Ranta scored 12 seconds into a power-play opportunity at 8:30 of the second period for his fourth of the year before Brodzinski added to the lead later in the period at 17:54 with his second goal of the season. Meyers added his fourth of the year at 3:43 of the third period before Michigan (5-4-0, 3-4-0-1-0-0) got on the board at 4:16 with a goal from Kent Johnson.
The Gophers were outshot for the second time this season, 31-34. Minnesota closes out the first half against Michigan on Wednesday, Dec. 9 at 5:30 p.m. CT.
Quotes from Coach
“It wasn’t a pretty game for us, but we did enough good things that amount to a win, and that’s what is important,” Minnesota head coach Bob Motzko said. “You add up those little things tonight, and that’s what led us to get the win tonight. But we have a chance to be better tomorrow too.”
Minnesota’s 7-0-0 start to 2020-21 is the program’s best start since going 8-0-0 to begin the 1987-88 campaign while the team’s nine-game winning streak is its best since winning 11-straight games from Dec. 16, 1995-Jan. 27, 1996 (capping off a 19-game unbeaten streak (18-0-1))…Minnesota’s No. 4 ranking is its highest position in the national polls since Nov. 6, 2017…the Gophers are 11-0-0 against Michigan since the start of the 2000-01 season when both teams are ranked in the top 10…Minnesota has allowed two goals or fewer in each of its first seven games for the first time since 1939-40 (the Gophers allowed two goals or fewer for the first 16 games before going 18-0-0 for the year).
(info and photo courtesy of Gopher Sports)