Minneapolis, MN – After an overtime affair Friday night, Sunday’s matinee between Minnesota and Michigan State again needed extra time to settle the score.
This time, however, no shootout was required (thank goodness).
Jimmy Clark scored the game-winning-goal in the 3-on-3 overtime session as the Minnesota Gophers (7-4-3 Overall, 2-3-1-2 B1G) pulled out an overtime win over the Spartans (10-4-2, 5-0-1-2). Michigan State had scored two goals in the final five minutes of regulation to force the overtime period.
Like Friday night’s contest, Minnesota scored first to establish an early lead. Bryce Brodzinski scored on the power play midway through the first to put the Gophers up 1-0. Also like Friday, Minnesota could not get any separation, and Michigan State hung around long enough to make them pay. MSU’s Red Savage scored at 17:08 of the first after being left alone in front to tie the game at 1-1.
MSU took their first (and only) lead of the weekend just 32 seconds into the second period, when David Gucciardi jumped on a turnover and scored a shorthanded breakaway. The two teams traded five-minute majors, with MSU’s Tommi Mannisto being sent off at 4:18 just 45 seconds before Minnesota’s Jimmy Snuggerud was assessed a five-minute major. In the ensuing four-on-four play, Ryan Chesley snuck down to the side of the cage and fired a Brody Lamb cross-ice pass past MSU netminder Trey Augustine, tying the game 2-2 at 5:37 of the period. The MSU lead totaled 5:05 of play time.
Soon after the Chesley goal, MSU took another penalty, giving the Gophers a four-on-three power play opportunity. Bryce Brodzinski and Jaxon Nelson combined for a pretty goal to give Minnesota a 3-2 lead at 8:14 of the period. An MSU penalty killer had broken his stick, and the Gophers capitalized, working the puck around the stick-less defender to Nelson in the corner before the Magnolia native found Brodzinski at the goal mouth to put it away. Brodzinski’s goal was his second PP goal of the game and his eighth goal of the season.
No lead was safe for long in this game, and MSU came back late in the second to tie the game at 3-3 heading into the third period.
Minnesota came out looking like they had something to prove in the third, and were able to get back in the lead early, when Connor Kurth scored 59 seconds into the final frame on a breakaway rush off a nice feed from Rhett Pitlick. Then, for the first time for either team all weekend, the Gophers got a separation goal from a Pitlick tip-in at 10:15 of the final frame to go up 5-3.
10 minutes was plenty of time for MSU to chip into that two-goal lead, and chip away they did. First, the Spartans got a seeing-eye shot from the point through at 15:14. Then, with the Gophers doing a nice job of salting the clock away in the offensive zone, MSU finally found a man in front of the net with just 18 seconds left in the third to tie it at 5-5.
In the overtime, both teams had high-quality chances, but Jimmy Clark sent the home fans away happy by scoring his fourth goal of the year 3:58 into the extra session. Sam Rinzel found Clark out front, and Clark’s shot beat Augustine to give the Gophers the wild 6-5 victory.
Minnesota played better than the 3-point weekend effort will show, but this team is still finding its way, and the result is one they can build on.
Bryce Brodzinski said after the game that he thought this Gopher team was better on the road, and they’ll get a chance to test that theory in December. The next home game Minnesota plays is on New Years’ Day against the USA Under-18 Team. Before that, the Gophers are on the road. Next weekend, Minnesota travels to State College to take on the Penn State Nittany Lions, then the following weekend the Gophers are in Columbus to face the Ohio State Buckeyes to round out the first half.