Like a Lamb
Gophers sophomore Brody Lamb scored 2 goals at the X vs. St. Thomas.
Brody Lamb, a sophomore winger for the Minnesota Gophers men’s hockey team, stepped onto the ice at Xcel Energy Center last Friday night with an opportunity to put on a show during an “away” game against the University of St. Thomas Tommies.
Fans of the Minnesota state high school boys’ hockey tournament might recognize Lamb’s name from the goal fest he put together on the same sheet during the 2021 tourney. The Byron native scored six of the seven goals for his Dodge County team in a 7-3 quarterfinal victory over a depleted Hermantown squad (pandemic protocols kept most of the top Hawks out of the lineup). Lamb was the leading scorer in that tournament with 10 tallies as he led Dodge County to a runner-up finish to Gentry Academy.
Friday, Lamb scored a pair of third-period goals in a back-and-forth contest against St. Thomas, helping the Gophers achieve an eventual 6-5 overtime victory.
“Obviously it’s a little different play style from what I played in high school,” Lamb said. “The atmosphere was great tonight, obviously two big student sections. It’s always good to play in front of a loud crowd.”
The crowd, a mix of maroon-and-gold and purple-clothed spectators, was engaged and created a fun atmosphere for the Minnesota/St. Thomas women’s and men’s hockey doubleheader. Looking around the lower bowl for the men’s game with a 7:30 p.m. puck drop was reminiscent of the turnouts for the Class 1A boys’ high school tournament.
Paid attendance for the two games (the women played at 4 p.m., an 8-0 Gophers win) was 11,376; one ticket provided entry for both contests, with St. Thomas as the home team playing at a neutral site but still in its native St. Paul.
“This is my favorite road trip now of the year,” said Gophers coach Bob Motzko. “I’ll be home by 11:02 p.m. We’ll keep it going. Our fans want it, and we’ve got to deliver it.”
Fans were treated to a very entertaining hockey game that helped establish what many hope could be a new in-state, Division I rivalry. St. Thomas, in only its third season as a DI program after moving up from Division III, faced the Gophers for the first time since January 1927 for a regular-season game.
St. Thomas entered the night on the high of splitting a series with St. Cloud State a weekend ago with an overtime victory, while the Gophers officially opened their season on Friday.
The Gophers took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission, but St. Thomas responded with a three-goal second period to grab the 3-2 lead headed for the final 20 minutes of play. The Gophers “got off script,” Motzko said, and St. Thomas capitalized.
“I have no idea who that team was playing in the second period,” Motzko said, of his Gophers.
If any fans lingered in the concourse following the second intermission, they missed out on a ton of action. Only 27 seconds in, sophomore Lucas Wahlin gave the Tommies a two-goal cushion. The momentum appeared to be all St. Thomas. But the Gophers, the nation’s runner-up last season, countered right away. Gophers sophomore Jimmy Snuggerud needed only five seconds into a power play to score his first goal of the game, and only 20 seconds after Wahlin.
Then it was time for Snuggerud’s linemate Lamb to put on his show. Still only 2 minutes, 8 seconds into the third period, Lamb tied the game 4-4 with a perfect top-shelf wrister from the slot. Four minutes later, Lamb struck again for his first collegiate multi-goal game to give the Gophers a 5-4 lead.
Maintaining a positive attitude throughout the third period was key for the Gophers bench, according to Lamb.
“Two-goal lead’s the worst lead in hockey,” Lamb said. “So, I think just staying composed, talking to everyone on the bench, staying positive.”
But Wahlin countered again for the Tommies with 6:43 left in regulation. Snuggerud scored the overtime winner to avoid the season-opener upset for a 6-5 Gophers victory. The Gophers avoided what would have been an eye-popping loss, but also put on some entertainment for the fans.
Wahlin, who scored twice and added an assist, credited the Gophers but also noted how the Tommies battled back from being down 2-0 early.
“We’re right there with the No. 1 team in the nation,” Wahlin said. “It is tough. Definitely a good hockey game and a good team.
“They got the last bounce, but it’s the way it goes.”
Saturday, the home-and-home series moved to 3M Arena at Mariucci. The Gophers finished off the sweep with a 3-0 victory, with Snuggerud scoring two a pair of goals before Lamb, who assisted on the second goal, scored an empty-netter in the final minute. The Tommies pressured but couldn’t get a goal past Justen Close, who made 24 saves for the shutout.
After Friday’s game, St. Thomas coach Rico Blasi said his team was taking the necessary steps to progress and make sure they’re in more games than not.
“So, we were in that game (Friday),” Blasi said. “Do I think we’re there yet? Probably not. But we’re getting close.”
To see additional photos from the Gophers vs. Tommies game on Oct. 13, 2023, click here.