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Mice on the top of Alaska on the first night – Twin Cities

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MINNEAPOLIS – There is an insistence among the coaches and players of the Minnesota Gophers, despite all the oddities of the past five days, that business goes as usual on the field.

But Friday turned out to be an important first night for the Gophers, as their first win looked like a restart of their season.

Tristan Broz and Jackson LaCombe scored their first goals of the season, while Justen Close got his first goal, as the Gophers won 4-1 over Alaska at the 3M Arena in Mariucci.

It comes after they lost their starting goalie every night on Sunday, they lost two players to long-term injuries last weekend, they let COVID run through their dressing room and they played against a squad “all ready”.

“I liked what we did in the second half,” said Gophers coach Bob Motzko. His team has won three games and two show games since the holiday season. “Obviously we’ve got a lot going on this week, but I think it’s the moment we live in. You just have to deal with it and move on.”

Broz was playing in his 18th game at college and had a healed scratch twice before the holiday season, but he appeared to have scored his first goal of every game in the second half.

It was the Gophers’ first game (13-8-0) total since the sudden, unexpected departure on Sunday of Jack LaFontaine, who has been a mainstay in their goals for more than two seasons. over, to the NHL. Close, a career first junior, made 14 saves.

“Obviously, Jack wasn’t there, but we all trusted Closer. He’s been here, spending three years not really playing,” said defender Ben Brinkman, who has assisted three of four goals. “We are all delighted for him. He is a great goalkeeper as you have seen tonight.”

Blake McLaughlin and Matthew Knies added goals for the Gophers, who won their third game in a row. McLaughlin’s goal was outstanding reel diversity, and was aided by longtime teammate Sammy Walker. The assist gave Walker 100 career points.

Walker said while joining the show’s Club of the Century. “It’s been a huge honor to have great players come before me and be able to do it. Being in that category is something special. ”

The Gophers are without strikers Rhett Pitlick and Jaxon Nelson, both of whom are expected to miss several weeks through injury. Defender Brock Faber, named on the US Olympic team on Thursday, was also unavailable on Friday. Defender Matt Denman dressed for the first time this season but there was no change. And new reserve goalkeeper Owen Bartoszkiewicz put on his uniform for the first time, officially joining the Gophers just hours before the game.

The Gophers scored twice in the first half and twice in the third, but their coach felt them sag in the middle 20 minutes and praised the McLaughlin-Walker combination for regaining momentum.

“We needed that energy in the third phase, because we got rid of it completely in the second phase,” says Motzko. “That line and all of our lanes really go into the third phase and put pressure on them.”

https://www.twincities.com/2022/01/14/mens-hockey-gophers-top-alaska-on-night-of-firsts/ Mice on the top of Alaska on the first night – Twin Cities

Beth Allcock

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