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Logan Cooley impresses in debut as U blanks Lindenwood – Twin Cities

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A month ago, Minnesota Gophers coach Bob Motzko preached patience to those expecting an immediate impact from rookie forward Logan Cooley, who came to the U of M after being selected third overall in the 2022 NHL draw. After Cooleys college hockey debut, that patience can be put on hold.

Cooley scored two goals and set another one, displaying an astonishing array of skills with his stick and skates, as the Gophers opened their 2022-23 season with a 4-0 win over Lindenwood in the first-ever Division I game. played by the Visiting Lions.

He was very good tonight, and I think he has been doing that all his life, Motzko said of Cooley, who is from Pittsburgh, and was one of the most wanted players in the nation before he chose Minnesota. Let’s hope he loves this building and keeps it going.

Matthew Knies and Jaxon Nelseon also had a goal and an assist each, and Justen Close racked up 16 saves for his fourth career shutout and second clean sheet in his past three starts, dating back to last season.

The Lions got 30 saves from goalkeeper Trent Burnham and killed a huge penalty, but got nothing but lessons in their debut at the highest level of college hockey.

It’s a great talent team that we’ve been competing against, said Lions coach Rick Zombo, praising his goalkeeper for his gallant effort and his team for their overall fitness. We knew if you went in you had to keep their better players off the ice, but they have 20 better players so how are you supposed to do that?

Cooley and Jimmy Snuggerud had played together with amazing chemistry for the USA Hockeys National Team Development Program last season, and after trying to separate them for the first few weeks of practice, Motzko reunited the duo. Sophomore forward Rhett Pitlick got the left wing position with Cooley and Snuggerud and showed he immediately belonged in that trio.

Cooleys’ first collegiate goal came after a nice backhand pass over the mouth. Burnham spread out to make the save, but as he skated away, Cooley was able to turn a backhand shot over the lying keeper for a 2-0 Gophers lead.

You saw the pass he made. He’s super skilled, really dynamic player, Cooley said of Pitlick, whose father, Lance, and brother, Rem, both played for the Gophers. In practice, he always makes such pieces, so I wasn’t too surprised about that.

Cooley admitted that after the first save, he was just trying to get the puck back on the net.

He made a very nice save. I don’t know how he read that, but I just tried to clip it over his pad and luckily it went in, Cooley said.

Close, who has started every Gophers game since mid-January of last season, was not named one of the three-star games, despite not conceding a goal and keeping things calm when the Lions hit a second period. did a few push-ups. But for the Gophers, they saw what they were used to from the netminder who stopped their Frozen Four run last season.

He’s a really good goalkeeper. Last year, we leaned on him quite a bit later in the year and he showed up, Nelson said.

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