College Hockey Game of the Week: No. 7 Minnesota vs. No. 8 Ohio State
The college hockey regular season is coming to a close and teams across the nation are fighting to get into a top-15 spot in the PairWise rankings.
The No. 7 Minnesota Golden Gophers kick off a four-game road trip against the No. 8 Ohio State Buckeyes. While both teams sit at a top 15 spot in the standings, there is still lots of hockey left.
The Buckeyes (21-7-2, 13-5-2) have exceeded expectations all season long. They have won six of their last seven games, which included one tie to Penn State back in January.
They were projected to be dead last in the Big Ten for the second straight year. However, they went from worst to first very quickly, sitting atop the Big Ten standings with 42 points.
Jakub Dobeš (20-6-2) is the easy favorite for Big Ten Goaltender of the Year and for Big Ten Freshman of the Year. The 6-foot-4 net-minder leads the conference in save percentage (.936). A player to watch out for in this series for Ohio State is freshman Georgii Merkulov. Merkulov has four goals in his last five games and leads the Buckeyes in points (31).
The Golden Gophers (17-11-0,12-6-0) have been good recently. They swept Michigan State and are third in the Big Ten with 37 points, although have been inconsistent for most of the year. Minnesota will be missing three important players: Ben Meyers, Matthew Knies and Brock Faber are in Beijing for the 2020 Winter Olympics.
Not having those three players could be the difference, however, head coach Bob Motzko has lots of depth and speed. Players like Sammy Walker, Jackson LaCombe, Ryan Johnson and Chaz Lucius should fill those voids.
Both teams split with each other the last time they met back in November. That was before Ohio State started playing consistent hockey. Momentum is key in hockey, especially towards the end of the season. The Buckeyes have lots of it and Minnesota has been up and down as of late.
The goaltending matchup will be very interesting. That is what this series is going to come down to. Jack LaFontaine is no longer guarding the crease for Minnesota. He signed a pro contract with the Carolina Hurricanes.
Third-year goaltender Justen Close is playing well for someone who was thrown into the fire so suddenly. He is 5-3-0 through 10 games.
Goaltending is going to be the deciding factor in this series. Dobeš against Close will be an interesting matchup.
Minnesota will look to close Ohio State’s hot streak this Friday at Ohio.
Prediction: Ohio State sweeps
Jacob Cheris is a third-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.
About the Contributors
Third-Year / Broadcast Journalism
Jacob Cheris is a third-year majoring in broadcast journalism from Gaithersburg, Maryland. He is an aspiring sports writer. Jacob is a huge Washington Capitals fan and has a great passion for hockey. He played all throughout high school. He is also a member of Penn State Sports Night, where he analyzes hockey and other sports on YouTube. Jacob also covers Penn State Men’s hockey as the lead editorial writer for Roar Lions Roar, giving in depth analysis on the team, and feature stories on specific players. Jacob is also the host of CommRadio’s hockey talk show “The Sin Bin”. Jacob is looking to expand his love for hockey and use it across all sports.