Gophers hockey heads to Penn State with Big Ten title clinched

The University of Minnesota men's hockey team clinched the Big Ten regular season title for the second straight year. (University of Minnesota Athletics)

The University of Minnesota men’s hockey team is at Penn State this weekend for their final regular season road series, and the Gophers will take the ice Friday night as the Big Ten regular season champions.

Ohio State beat Michigan in a shootout Thursday night, clinching a regular season title for Minnesota and a No. 1 seed in the Big Ten Tournament. The Gophers were unable to clinch it themselves last weekend after a 3-1 loss to Wisconsin for a series split.

The Gophers won their second straight Big Ten title, and sixth overall. In Bob Motzko’s five seasons, Minnesota has three Big Ten titles, two in the regular season and one conference tournament title. With four regular season games left, it’s the earliest the Gophers have ever clinched a Big Ten title.

Minnesota leads the Big Ten in scoring margin, at +1.6 goals per game, which is also second in the NCAA. The Gophers feature three of the top six scorers in the Big Ten in Jimmy Snuggerud (40 points), Logan Cooley (38 points) and Matthew Knies (31). Goalie Justen Close also leads the Big Ten with five shutouts, and a 2.09 goals against average.

The Gophers (21-8-1, 15-4-1) are No. 1 in the PairWise Rankings and are a lock for the NCAA Tournament. After Penn State, they’ll close out the regular season against Ohio State at 3M Arena at Mariucci Feb. 24-25.