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U men's hockey sweeps Ohio State for fifth straight win

To Gophers men's hockey coach Bob Motzko, Minnesota's three-goal victory over Ohio State on Friday night wouldn't mean much if his team didn't sweep the Buckeyes on Saturday.

His players got the message and adhered to their coach's directive.

Second-period goals by Garrett Pinoniemi, Bryce Brodzinski and Rhett Pitlick broke open a scoreless game, and 24 saves from Justen Close enabled the Gophers to beat Ohio State 6-3 on Saturday night at 3M Arena at Mariucci in front of a crowd of 9,594. Aaron Huglen, Jaxon Nelson and Brody Lamb added third-period goals as the Gophers won their fifth game in a row and gained three points over the weekend on first-place Michigan State in the Big Ten standings.

The Gophers (14-6-4, 7-4-3 Big Ten) posted their first conference sweep of the season and remained in fourth place in the Big Ten with 23 points, one behind third-place Notre Dame. Michigan State leads with 34 points, and Wisconsin is second with 30. Minnesota will play the Spartans and Badgers on the road over the next two weekends.

"The speed limit goes up," Motzko said.

Brothers Joe and Jake Dunlap, plus Caden Brown, scored goals for Ohio State (9-11-4, 1-11-2). Logan Terness made 24 saves for the Buckeyes, who are in last place in the Big Ten.

The Gophers took control of the game in the second, getting goals from three different lines.

Pinoniemi, a fourth-line left winger, started it 3:14 into the period. Freshman defenseman Sam Rinzel tried to stuff the puck past Terness on a wraparound. The goalie made the save but gave up a rebound that Pinoniemi pounded home for his first goal of the season.

"It felt good," the sophomore said. "I just went to the net and tried to keep it simple."

Brodzinski, starting at left wing instead of his usual right wing, increased the Gophers' lead to 2-0 at 7:21 of the second. The fifth-year senior skated the puck up the ice and into the Buckeyes' zone, sent it to Mason Nevers, who left a drop pass that Brodzinski sniped over Terness' left shoulder.

"I just had to get it off in a hurry," said Brodzinski, who also had two assists.

After Joe Dunlap's goal at 7:44, Pitlick, who had a hat trick and an assist in Friday's 5-2 win, stretched the lead to 3-1 at 17:46 of the second. Oliver Moore won a faceoff, sending the puck between his legs back to Pitlick, who one-timed a shot for his 15th goal of the season.

"Overall, I couldn't be more pleased with our effort throughout our entire lineup," Motzko said. "… Our guys have confidence right now."

BOXSCORE: Gophers 6, Ohio State 3

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Huglen made it 4-1 at 5:17 of the third period. Nelson stretched the lead to 5-1 at 9:19 with a blast from the left circle.

Goals by Jake Dunlap and Brown cut the lead to 5-3 before Lamb scored into an empty net with 34 seconds left.

After a sluggish first half of the season that left the Gophers with a 5-4-3 conference mark, the team believes it's finding its stride.

"Our biggest stump the first half was we'd win the first game and get complacent," Brodzinski said. "Our thing [Saturday] was to play like we lost the first game. … It was a big emphasis."