Gophers and Wolverines Heavyweight Battle in Tree Town

Story posted November 15, 2022 in CommRadio, Sports by Hayden Lewis

Yost Arena and Ann Arbor, Michigan are playing host to a big time Big Ten heavyweight battle between No. 2 Minnesota and No. 3 Michigan in NCAA Men’s College Hockey this week.

The Golden Gophers are trying to rebound from a series split with Penn State this past weekend. They dropped the first game 4-2 at Mariucci before winning the second game 3-1 thanks to a two-goal game from Bryce Brodzinski.

The maroon and gold are 4-2 in Big Ten play, and need to win a series outright to keep the No. 2 ranking.

They are led offensively by freshman Jimmy Snuggerud, sophomore Matthew Knies and senior Jackson LaCombe. Snuggerud has 12 points on the season while Knies and LaCombe both have 11 points in 12 games.

Junior defensemen Brock Faber has been a two-way weapon for the Gophers. He has amassed 25 blocked shots helping out his goaltenders, while also tallying seven points and four penalty minutes. He plays a large role in every facet of the team's game.

Justen Close is Bob Motzko’s go-to netminder, but backup Owen Bartoszkiewicz has seen playing time in three games this season. Close has impressive stats this season, but this comes as no surprise after his successful campaign last year.

The special teams play in Minnesota has been average this season. As always however, special teams will play a large role in such an important series.

Minnesota is a solid team once again, but its opponent, Michigan, is just as good and may be better.

Brandon Naurato is in his first season as the bench boss in Ann Arbor, and is trying to replace the interim title with permanent. His Wolverines are 9-3-0 on the season and have loads of talent on the roster.

Last weekend, the Wolverines split with the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame and are seeking their first sweep since October struck.

Freshman Adam Fantilli and sophomore Mackie Samoskevich are a dynamic duo for the maize and blue. Fantilli, a potential top-five draft pick this year, is leading the team with an astounding 23 points in 12 games.

New Jersey Devils prospect, Luke Hughes, is lighting it up once again in the backend for the Wolverines as well. Hughes has posted 12 points in 12 games Hughes is proving why he was taken fourth overall in the 2021 NHL Draft.

Naurato likes to ride with Erik Portillo in net, but backup netminder Noah West is also a great choice for the maize and blue. Portillo will most likely start both against the Golden Gophers, but there should be no problems in net no matter who plays for the Wolverines.

The Michigan powerplay is ranked second in the country and produces at a high rate. If the powerplay can take over for the Wolverines, they may run away with this series.

Michigan’s offense might be too hot to handle for the Golden Gophers and could secure a sweep, but either way, this should be another great series for the third week in a row in the Big Ten.

Hayden Lewis is a first-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, please email

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Hayden Lewis

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Hayden Lewis is a Freshman from Penn State. He has spent his first year in CommRadio as a contributor to the sports department writing articles focused on the NHL and PLL. He is also doing Play-by-Play for women’s hockey as well. As a new member he is a shadow on the talk show Sin Bin and contributes his hockey knowledge to the show. Prior to coming to Penn State he attended Culver Academies in Culver Indiana where he played hockey and lacrosse. You can contact him @15haydenlewis on twitter, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)