East Lansing, MI – After a disappointing weekend in the desert against Arizona State, the Minnesota coaching staff probably had a lot of videotape to go over with the players as they prepared for their third weekend on the road at Michigan State.
After this weekend’s performance, the coaches might struggle to find much to nitpick.
The #4 Minnesota Gophers (12-3-1-2 Overall, 8-2-0-0 B1G) dominated the #13 Michigan State Spartans (11-6-1-0, 5-4-1-0) by a 6-3 score to pick up a road sweep and extend their lead in the Big Ten conference.
After struggling on breakaways thus far this season, the Gophers built a 2-0 lead on two breakaways through the middle of the second period. Jimmy Snuggerud scored the first goal of the game on a 2-on-0 breakaway, with Cooley providing a pass and Snuggerud electing to shoot rather than passing back to Cooley and beating MSU goalie Dylan St. Cyr high to the glove side at 14:02 of the first period.
Minnesota’s second breakaway came at 7:20 of the second, with Bryce Brodzinski, who is known for shooting the puck, dummied a shot before deftly sliding the puck five-hole through St. Cyr to give the Gophers a 2-0 lead.
The turning point of the game came just past the 10-minute mark of the second period. Michigan State, pressing to score for the first time all series, fired a hard wrist shot that caught the underside of the crossbar before bouncing out. On the ensuing possession, Mason Nevers rushed out of the zone and passed the puck right-wing to Jaxon Nelson, whose wrist shot beat St. Cyr stick side to put the Gophers up 3-0.
Matthew Knies added a late-second period goal to put Minnesota up 4-0 heading into the third.
The Spartans showed some life in the third, scoring twice before the 10-minute mark to pull within two at 4-2, but the Gophers bounced back, with Mason Nevers and Brock Faber scoring to put the game out of reach. MSU scored once more late, but it was too little too late for the Spartans.
Through 10 Big Ten games, the Gophers are 8-2, good for 24 points and a five-point lead over second-place Penn State. The Spartans currently sit third at 17 points. The win also put Minnesota up into first place in the Pairwise rankings. One of the youngest teams in the country, the sky is the limit for this Gopher team come March (and hopefully April).