MINNEAPOLIS — Ohio State and No. 1 Minnesota were both winless in outdoor games heading into their contest at TCF Bank Stadium on Friday night, so something had to give.
The Gophers shutout the Buckeyes (11-7-1, 1-3-1 Big Ten) 1-0 in the night game of the Hockey City Classic, which was held at Minnesota’s football stadium across the street from Mariucci Arena. The Gophers women’s team defeated Minnesota State, 4-0, in the first game.
This was the second consecutive year that Minnesota (16-2-3, 6-0-1 Big Ten) played in the Hockey City Classic. Wisconsin defeated the Gophers, 3-2, last year in Chicago.
Gophers coach Don Lucia said that he didn’t expect to play in another outdoor game anytime soon, but used the post-game press conference to lobby the National Hockey League to play a Winter Classic in Minnesota.
“I think we’ll wait for a while; this is something where it’s special to be a part of it, but I think you can do it too much,” Lucia said. “Quite frankly, the next team that deserves to play in this game is the [Minnesota] Wild. I think that our fans would really embrace that, and hopefully the NHL will come here.”
Cold temperatures and outdoor ice made for a lack of goals, and scoring chances in general, during the game. Though the play on the ice wasn’t the most exciting, the ice itself, and where it was located, was the main topic of conversation.
“It was pretty surreal walking out there tonight,” Ohio State coach Steve Rohlik said. “There was a full moon above the stadium with a little haze. It was pretty special to be a part of it; certainly on behalf of the Ohio State University, we’re pretty thankful to be apart of this.”
45,021 was the official attendance at “the bank,” which was the largest hockey crowd ever in Minnesota. Several fans tailgated before the game; Lucia said he stopped and talked to a few on the walk from his parking spot.
“They all seemed to be having a great time,” he said. “It was a pretty festive environment as far as the stands were concerned.”
Taylor Cammarata got the Gophers on the board in the second period when his shot, which originally was resting on the goal line, was knocked in by Buckeyes’ netminder Matt Tomkins. Kyle Rau and Justin Holl assisted on the goal.
After getting outshot 8-7 in the first period, the Gophers responded with a strong 14-shot second period that was highlighted by Cammarata’s goal. Minnesota finished with the 27-21 shot advantage.
Ryan Dzingel had Ohio State’s best scoring opportunity in the first period when he found himself on a short-handed breakaway, but was stoned by Minnesota goaltender Adam Wilcox.
“I tried to go upstairs with it,” Dzingel said. “I didn’t get a hold of it as much as I would have liked, and he obviously made a great save. I’ll be not sleeping to well tonight with that one.”
Wilcox had 21 saves on Friday night, Tomkins had 26.
The same two teams will play Saturday, this time inside. Faceoff at Mariucci Arena is set for 5 p.m. CST. The game will be part of Hockey Day Minnesota, which features televised high school, collegiate and professional games on Fox Sports North.
Rohlik said that the Buckeyes planned to move all their gear from the stadium to Mariucci Friday night, so as to put the game totally behind them.
“We just got to get over this one right now,” Rohlik said during the post-game news conference. “We got to focus on getting back tomorrow and getting prepared for a different style of hockey.”