Gopher men take Big 10 hockey title

MINNEAPOLIS – For the fifth time in the nine-year history of the Big Ten Conference, the University of Minnesota has claimed the Big Ten regular-season championship.

An 8-0 win over Wisconsin in the regular-season finale was a moot point for the Maroon & Gold as the conference crown was locked up midway through the first period with Michigan’s second loss to Notre Dame on the weekend.

Photo by Matt Krohn/University of Minnesota Athletics

The No. 4 Gophers (23-11-0 overall, 18-6-0-1-2-0 Big Ten) have now won 28 regular-season conference championships in the program’s 101-year history while the 2021-22 title stands as Minnesota’s first under Bob Motzko and first since 2016-17.

Sixteen Gophers tallied points in the win while eight different skaters scored goals (Mike Koster, Sammy Walker, Tristan Broz, Grant Cruikshank, Bryce Brodzinski, Ben Meyers, Rhett Pitlick and Matthew Knies).

Justen Close earned his second-straight shutout, making 24 saves to improve to 11-3-0. Close is the first Gophers goaltender to blank Wisconsin in back-to-back games since George Clausen did so on Feb. 9-10, 1934. Cameron Rowe took the loss for Wisconsin with 18 saves on 23 shots. Ben Garrity made one save on four shots in a relief appearance.

Minnesota outshot the Badgers 27-24 while going 1-for-3 on the power play and 3-for-3 on the penalty kill. The Gophers have not allowed a power-play goal in the last nine games and have only surrendered one in the last 13 contests.

Noteworthy
The Gophers were a perfect 8-0-0 in the month of February for the team’s longest winning and unbeaten streak of the season…the ‘U’ has outscored its opponents 37-11 during the winning streak…Minnesota is 11-1-2 in regular-season home finales since the 2007-08 season…Minnesota’s 23 wins this season are the second most in Motzko’s four years with the team (24 last year)…tonight’s eight goals were the most scored by the Gophers since scoring 10 in back-to-back games against Arizona State in January 2021.

Coach’s Comments
“That was a battle tonight. The score does not even come close to showing what kind of battle it was,” Minnesota head coach Bob Motzko said. “It was great for the seniors to go out that way – to get a trophy. Now we go to the fun time of year – the playoffs.”

Next Up: B1G Tournament Semifinal
As the No. 1 seed for the Big Ten tournament, the Gophers have secured a bye in the quarterfinals and will host a semifinal game at 3M Arena at Mariucci on Saturday, March 12. Opponent, game time and broadcast details will be announced when finalized as the Gophers now turn to defending their Big Ten tournament title. 

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