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Sheehy-Jobst friendship in the spotlight as Gophers visit Ohio State

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Mason Jobst (26) a senior forward from Speedway, Ind., handled the puck in front of his friend, Gophers goalie Eric Schierhorn, in a game last season. (Ric Kruszynski / Ohio State Athletics)5 / 6
Gophers co-captain Tyler Sheehy trails only his friend, Ohio State captain Mason Jobst, on the NCAA's all-time active scoring list heading into their head-to-head matchup this weekend. (Jim Rosvold / University of Minnesota Athletics)6 / 6

MINNEAPOLIS -- Ohio State senior captain Mason Jobst grew up within walking distance of one of the world’s true sports meccas.

From his boyhood home in Speedway, Ind., one can hear the roar of engines from less than a mile away a few times each year when Indianapolis Motor Speedway becomes the epicenter of the motorsports world.

But if you’re looking to play hockey in the summer in central Indiana, options are limited. So early in his college career, Jobst did what any dedicated skater would do: he went to Minnesota for a month.

There Jobst, who is the nation’s leading active career scorer (161 points in 142 games), developed a friendship with Gophers co-captain Tyler Sheehy, who is second on that scoring list (142 points in 140 games). This weekend, these two off-ice friends will meet head-to-head for what may be the final time when the Minnesota Gophers travel to Columbus, Ohio, for a pair of games.

While the Gophers (11-14-4 overall, 8-9-3-0 Big Ten) have lost six of their last eight and are suddenly at serious risk of a second consecutive season of road games in the playoffs, everything is coming up Buckeyes lately. Ohio State (19-5-4, 12-3-3-2) is ranked second or third in the country depending on which poll you follow, has lost just one game since before Thanksgiving and can clinch its first Big Ten title with a pair of wins this weekend.

While the Buckeyes are all but assured to win the conference crown, Sheehy, who won Big Ten titles as a freshman and sophomore, said the mission is to at least delay the Ohio State celebration by a few days.

“They’re sitting in a pretty good spot as far at their confidence, so hopefully if we can go in there and put a little halt on that and stop their momentum going into playoff time,” Sheehy said this week. “That would work to our advantage. Maybe make a race out of it toward the end of the year here in the Big Ten standings.”

While they are friends off the ice, Sheehy and Jobst were almost teammates on the ice.

Sheehy committed to Ohio State originally, but withdrew after the school fired former head coach Mark Osiecki, and Sheehy ended up with the Gophers. Jobst never officially committed to the Gophers, but admits he dreamed of wearing maroon and gold as a child.

“Back when I was probably in junior high and elementary school, I was a die-hard Gophers fan,” said Jobst, who also played alongside Sheehy for a shift or two last summer at the Minnesota Wild development camp. “Everyone knew me as the kid that would wear the Minnesota hat to school all the time. I don’t even really have a reason why, I just always thought the Gophs were so cool. So when I get a chance to play them it’s really special to me. It’s such a historic program.”

The Sheehy-Jobst friendship was brokered by Gophers senior goalie Eric Schierhorn, who was teammates with Jobst on a Muskegon, Mich., junior team and roomed with Sheehy when they were U of M freshmen. Having faced plenty of shots fired by both of them in games and in practice, the goalie says it’s not a surprise to see them atop the scoring charts.

“Ty is just a pure goal scorer. His shot is unbelievable. It’s not overpowering. He doesn’t do anything crazy, he just picks his spot,” Schierhorn said. “Mase is such a smart player and always knows where to be, so both of those guys can play with the best of them.”

Both of this weekend’s games start at 5 p.m. CT and will be televised by Big Ten Network.