Gophers blank Buckeyes, reach Big Ten title game
Detroit — The Big Ten regular season champion Minnesota turned back a determined challenge by Ohio State, 3-0, in the first semifinal of the conference tournament at Joe Louis Arena Friday afternoon.
Minnesota will next face the winner of the 8 p.m. Michigan-Michigan State semifinal in the title game at 8 p.m. Saturday.
An automatic NCAA Tournament berth is awarded to the winner.
The Buckeyes, winners of four straight entering the game and 7-2-1 in their last 10, skated like a confident team despite their fifth-place finish in the six-team conference.
Ohio State took most of the shots (39-23), carried much of the play and killed two early penalties without allowing a shot on the Minnesota power play.
But the Golden Gophers did all the scoring.
At 7:51 of the second period a heavy forecheck by Minnesota forced a turnover deep in the Ohio State zone and Travis Boyd, a senior drafted by the Washington Capitals, seized the puck and put a perfect pass on the stick of Sam Warning 18-feet from the Ohio State net.
Warning, an undrafted senior, ripped it past Buckeyes goalie Christan Frey.
Then, in the third period, Minnesota sophomore Vinnie Lettieri drove the net and chipped in a puck that lay on the goal line behind Frey for a moment after it deflected off Ohio State defenseman Clark Cristofoli.
Ben Marshall, a senior defenseman drafted by the Red Wings, and Taylor Cammarata assisted.
Ohio State pulled Frey with 4:43 left, already on a power play.
But Boyd sent one the length of the ice for the insurance goal.