Tempe, AZ – For the first time in program history, the Gophers traveled to the desert to take on Arizona State in a two-game series.
Unfortunately, Minnesota seemed to experience a Thanksgiving hangover.
After winning a sloppy game Friday 3-2, the Gophers (10-3-1-2 Overall, 6-2-0-0 B1G) lost a wild game 6-5 in overtime to the Arizona State Sun Devils (7-5-1-2 Overall).
The Gophers jumped out to an early 2-0 lead after the first period Friday, with Jaxon Nelson and Bryce Brodzinski scoring in the opening frame. ASU struck back early in the second to pull within one at 2-1, but Logan Cooley scored the game-winning goal early in the third to put Minnesota up two at 3-1, a lacrosse-style goal just 1:49 into the third. The Sun Devils scored late in the third to make it a game, but Minnesota was able to salt the game away as time wound down.
After Friday, head coach Bob Motzko lambasted the effort, declaring that the team would be better Saturday. For the most part, they were. However, a few costly defensive miscues and uncharacteristically mediocre goaltending from Justen Close resulted in a disappointing overtime loss.
The game was a crazy one, with ASU scoring the first goal midway through the first, Minnesota striking back with two unanswered (Knies, Pitlick) towards the end of the first to go up 2-1, ASU scoring twice in 1:21 in the second to take another lead 3-2, Minnesota scoring again (Faber) to tie it 3-3, and then ASU and Minnesota (Snuggerud) trading goals 38 seconds apart to finish up the second period 4-4.
The Gophers’ John Mittelstadt scored 3:17 into the third period to put the Gophers ahead 5-4, their first lead since 6:21 of the second. At this point, it seemed like Minnesota controlled the game and would calmly milk the clock down for the sweep. ASU had other ideas. The Sun Devils’ Dylan Jackson scored with 3:09 left in the period to tie the game and send it to overtime. In the three-on-three sesson, ASU’s Robert Mastrosimone scored on a breakaway to win it for the home team.
The Gophers are on the road again next weekend, facing off against Michigan State in East Lansing. The Spartans are the biggest surprise of the season, currently sixth in the Pairwise rankings and second in the Big Ten (one point behind Minnesota). It should be another gut-check moment for this young and talented Gopher team. The Friday/Saturday series starts at 6:30 Eastern time on December 2nd.