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Gophers Hockey: Minnesota vs. Ohio State Saturday Notes & Line Combinations

Saturday's game begins at 7:00 p.m. CT and airs on ESPNEWS.

Don Lucia won his 400th game as Gopher head coach Friday.
Don Lucia won his 400th game as Gopher head coach Friday.
Matt Christians/SBN College Hockey

Minnesota freshman forward Tommy Novak scored the game-tying goal and set up Hudson Fasching for the overtime game winner Friday. Was it the best performance in his young career?

That's a tricky question to answer.

"Third period...I can't say say the first two," said head coach Don Lucia when it was brought up Friday.

It wasn't just Novak. There are several other players that can have the same claim on them, which is something expected in a game where Minnesota changed the tone during the third period. The Gophers went back to some familiar lines. Leon Bristedt was reunited with Novak and Fasching.

They will continue tonight. After it worked during the third period, the Gophers will roll the same top-nine as most of the previous month.

"One of the reasons I went back (to the lines) was that we talked about, there were a couple guys that seemed like were fighting it tonight, they were sluggish in the play. That's when we went back to the lines after the second period," Lucia said.

Whether they last remains to be seen. Minnesota knows that it needs to win third periods - before tonight the Gophers had lost three games where it had led or tied in the third period - and get off to better starts. The team has only scored the first goal four times in 13 games this season.

"We haven't had very many leads," Lucia said.  "It's still an ongoing issue to get the first goal .. you don't want to chase the game."

Nick Seeler also returns to the Minnesota lineup tonight after serving a one-game suspension. Rather than playing with Ryan Collins, as the redshirt junior has this season, he is playing with Jack Glover Saturday.

The fourth line is a little interesting. Ryan Reilly gets a nod to play in today's game, replacing Jack Ramsey. Ramsey sits for the first time this season. Darian Romanko also returns Saturday in place of Ryan Norman.

Eric Schierhorn is presumed to be in net unless someone says otherwise.

Ohio State head coach Steve Rohlik was happy with goaltender Christian Frey's play, choosing him over Matt Tomkins after a solid week of practice. He did not commit to playing the junior after Friday's game despite Frey making 37 saves. However, it appears that Frey will get the nod again.

OSU freshman John Wiitala will also play in front of his friends and family Saturday.

One thing disappointing locally here is that of the 4 Minnesotans on the Buckeyes roster, only one (Lakeville native Drew Brevig) suited up Friday. Freshmen Tyler Nanne and Miguel Fidler (Edina) are both injured. In Nanne's case he has yet to make his collegiate debut. Wiitala (Lakeville) was a late scratch after participating in warmups, but is coming back.

He replaces Kevin Miller in the lineup with several other changes line-wise happening. Tyler Lundey returns to the first line with David Gust and Anthony Greco. Matthew Weis, who had several point-blank chances Friday, switches spots with Mason Jobst. Christian Lampasso is also in for Ohio State, replacing Mike Gillespie.

Full lines:

University of Minnesota Golden Gophers

Forwards

Connor Reilly (#21) - Justin Kloos (#25) - Tyler Sheehy (#22)

Leon Bristedt (#18) - Tommy Novak (#17) - Hudson Fasching (#24)

Brent Gates Jr. (#10) - Vinni Lettieri (#19) - Taylor Cammarata (#13)

A.J. Michaelson (#15) - Darian Romanko (#26) - Ryan Reilly (#9)

Defensemen

Nick Seeler (#11) - Jack Glover (#3)

Jake Bischoff (#28) - Michael Brodzinski (#20)

Steve Johnson (#4) - Ryan Collins (#6)

Goaltenders

Eric Schierhorn (#37)

Nick Lehr (#34)

Ryan Coyne (#31)

Ohio State University Buckeyes

Forwards

David Gust (#17) - Tyler Lundey (#23) - Anthony Greco (#44)

Luke Stork (#18) -  Matthew Weis (#16) - Nick Schilkey (#7)

John Wiitala (#10) -Mason Jobst (#26) - Christian Lampasso (#11)

Freddy Gerrard (#15)  - Dakota Joshua (#8) - Brendon Kearney (#25)

Defensemen

Sasha Larocque (#3) - Drew Brevig (#4)

Victor Bjorkung (#5) - Craig Dalrymple (#24)

Tommy Parran (#6) - Josh Healey (#47)

Goaltenders

Christian Frey (#30)

Matt Tomkins (#31)

Other Big Ten scores:

  • Penn State earned all six points this weekend against Michigan State (having already played Saturday afternoon) with 4-2 and 6-1 wins at Pegula Arena. [Friday's recap.]
  • Michigan came back from a 3-0 deficit to defeat Wisconsin 6-4.

TV Notes:

Tonight's game (8:00 p.m. ET/ 7:00 p.m. CT) is on ESPNEWS with Clay Matvick and Sean Ritchin calling the action. You can also stream it on Watch ESPN.

Minnesota is debuting gold sweaters for the first time this season. Ohio State is wearing red.

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Nathan Wells is a college hockey columnist for SB Nation mostly covering both the University of Minnesota and Big Ten. You can also follow him on Twitter --