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Gophers Hockey: Ohio State pulls through on Senior Night

The loss was costly for Minnesota's Big Ten and NCAA Tournament hopes.

Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

On senior night in Columbus, it was a junior that sent eight Ohio State players off in style and put a damper in Minnesota's Big Ten title and NCAA Tournament hopes.

Defenseman Craig Dalrymple, who entered the two game series with zero goals on the season, scored his second goal of the weekend with 14:18 remaining and OSU got two empty netters to finish off a 5-2 win Saturday.

Minnesota goaltender Adam Wilcox made 27 saves, including 4 Ohio State breakaway chances. Christian Frey had a quieter night for the Buckeyes this time around with 22 saves Saturday.

The loss - the third straight time the Gophers have failed to complete a sweep after winning the first game - means Minnesota (19-12-3, 10-5-3-0 Big Ten) missed out on an opportunity to take over first place in a tight Big Ten race with two games remaining.

Instead, the Gophers remain tied for second with Michigan with 33 points. Michigan State leapfroged both with a 3-0 win over Wisconsin.

The Buckeyes (12-18-2, 7-11-0-0 Big Ten) controlled much of the first period. Ohio State players spent most of it in their offensive zone, out-shooting Minnesota 8-3 and having two power play opportunities.

Nick Schilkey had the period's only goal 8:54 into the game. With Darik Angeli left alone in front of Wilcox, the junior goalie was forced to make a fantastic save on the first shot. He wasn't so lucky on the second. Schilkey lifted a backhand shot on the rebound in for his ninth goal of the season.

Schilkey nearly had a second in the waning seconds of the opening period. On a breakaway his shot went high.

Anthony Greco had a chance in the opening shift of the second period, creating a breakaway out of the Gophers pestering Christian Frey, but did not get a goal and Ohio State did not maintain momentum.

Minnesota's third line of Taylor Cammarata, Justin Kloos and Vinni Lettieri, which had been mentioned by Gopher head coach Don Lucia as players that needed to step up in the final stretch of the regular season, did just that. Cammarata scored his third goal of the season 2:23 into the second period and Lettieri scored his seventh facing backwards on a tip less than three minutes later.

Kloos, who almost made gave Minnesota the lead midway through the period and then hit the post with 7:15 left in the third period, settled for two assists.

Matt Johnson tied the game at 2 on a delayed penalty when the Buckeyes had an extra attacker. The Stillwater, MN native put back a rebound that went right to him with 11:53 remaining in the second period.

Frey stepped up in the third period, stopping all chances. He also had help from the frame. Three times in the third period Saturday Minnesota hit the post or crossbar. That stood until Dalrymple cleanly beat Wilcox with a shot from between the tops of the circles.

The Gophers had a late power play attempt that did not go anywhere and two of the players that Wilcox had stopped on breakaways in Greco and Tanner Fritz deservingly got late empty netters with Wilcox on the bench for the extra attacker. It allowed the Buckeyes, hosting Senior Night in the team's home finale at Value City Arena, to begin and end with an all-senior line.

Minnesota faces Penn State next weekend at Mariucci Arena in a series that has major implications. The Nittany Lions are coming off a sweep of Michigan at home and split a series with Minnesota two weeks ago. Penn State sits two points behind the Gophers, one of four teams fighting for the championship and the first two spots that come with byes.

Ohio State remains locked in fifth place with 21 points. The Buckeyes play sixth-place Wisconsin next weekend.

With three consecutive failed attempts to win "the championship day," as Seth Ambroz put it earlier this week, Minnesota is running out of time. The real thing comes up soon.  The Gophers, now sitting on the Pairwise bubble for an NCAA Tournament at-large bid, may have to do so once or twice out of necessity.

Friday and Saturday's games against Penn State both begin at 7:00 p.m. CT. Friday is not on TV. Saturday will be aired on FSN+ and both games can be heard are on 1500 ESPN.

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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 --