Win Vaults Minnesota into Tie for First Place in B1G Standings
Minneapolis, MN – The turmoil of ‘arrogant little jerks’, poorly developing players, and myopic coaching were nowhere to be found in Mariucci Arena Friday evening.
After a week in which a critical newspaper article in the CityPages was the talk of the Gopher Hockey community, the team looked like they had put the piece past them from the opening puck drop. Justin Kloos scored just 21 seconds into the game to set the tone, and the Gophers (10-10-0 Overall, 5-2-0 B1G) rolled to a relatively easy 5-2 victory against the Michigan State Spartans (5-16-2, 1-6-0).
Kloos was the beneficiary of great plays by his linemates on the opening shift of the game. Freshman Tyler Sheehy trapped an escaping puck at the half-wall before ringing it around the boards to Connor Reilly behind the net. Reilly turned and found a wide open Kloos in the slot, who snapped the puck past MSU star goaltender Jake Hildebrand to give the Gophers a lead they’d never look back on.
Minnesota weathered two MSU powerplays in the first, giving up zero PP shots in the period and overall limiting the Spartans to just four attempts on net in the frame.
Although the Gophers had dominated the possession and shots battle (Minnesota finished the first period with 10 SOG), they only held a 1-0 lead at the break. That would change with more early Gopher goals in the second. Hudson Fasching, who had been stopped on the doorstep in the first by Hildebrand, would not be denied at 2:16 of the second, grabbing a loose puck at the side of the MSU cage and walking it out front before firing the puck into the net. Jake Bischoff increased the Gopher lead to 3-0 at 5:58 of the second, expertly wristing a low shot that snuck past a screened Hildebrand. Minnesota took three more penalties in the period, but Eric Schierhorn had a strong game and Michigan State was not able to muster much in terms of quality chances on the Gopher defense. The second period ended with a 3-0 Gopher lead.
The teams traded goals in the third with Hudson Fasching getting his second of the night and team-leading 13th of the season at 11:36. Connor Wood scored his first career goal for Michigan State at 12:29 to break Schierhorn’s shutout bid. Ryan Norman answered for the Gophers less than a minute later at 13:13 to push the Gopher lead back up to four at 5-1, but Villiam Haag popped another goal past Schierhorn at 17:29 to round out the scoring at 5-2.
The win, coupled with a Michigan State shootout loss at Ohio State, vaulted the Gophers up to a tie for first place in the B1G standings with Michigan at 15 points. Penn State sits in third place with 12 points, but also has two games in hand on both the Gophers and the Wolverines.
Minnesota and Michigan State face off again Saturday evening. The puck drops at 7:30 PM.