Minnesota Captures First Big Ten Title
CHN Staff Report
Minnesota was unable to clinch the Big Ten championship last week when it lost in overtime to Ohio State. But with a second chance, the Gophers didn't let this one slip away.
Kyle Rau scored 2:44 into overtime, on a power play, as the Gophers defeated Michigan, 3-2. Rau waited as Michigan goalie Zach Nagelvoort went down, and Rau lifted it over him.
It's the first time in program history the team has won three consecutive regular-season championships, including the last two in the WCHA.
"It's prettty cool," Rau said. "But when you come here, you don't come here to win conference championships, we come here for something else. So we want to keep going, keep playing well."
Brady Skjei and Justin Kloos also scored for the Gophers.
"We lost some really good players off last year's team, but some returning guys really stepped up their level of play and the freshmen have come in and complemented our team very, very well," Minnesota coach Don Lucia said.
Michigan led, 2-1, until late in the second period.
"Michigan was the better team in the first period, we kind of righted ourselves in the second," Lucia said. "But it was hard fought. Michigan's as good a team as we've seen all year. Michigan's not an easy place to play, but it's a fun place to play. We made the play in overtime to win it, and who else but Kyle Rau — he gets the big goals."
Derek DeBlois took a hooking penalty in OT, which led to the Minnesota power play. Meanwhile, Adam Wilcox made 22 saves.
"We had some nervousness to our game in the first period, we weren't talking," Lucia said. "Then the communication was much better as the game went on, Adam made some key saves to keep us in it, and the back half of our game was much better."
Lee Reimer scored 46 seconds into overtime to give Michigan State a 5-4 win over Wisconsin.
Coming into the series having won five-straight games, Wisconsin never got on track, despite coming back from down 3-1.
The teams are normally tight defensively, but the game started out wide open, with four goals in the first period.
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Behind 40 saves from freshman Christian Frey and three-point nights from junior Ryan Dzingel and freshman Nick Schilkey, Ohio State topped Penn State, 4-2. The teams will close the series, and the regular season, at 3 p.m. Saturday in University Park, Pa.