Minneapolis, MN – “Well, we weren’t a very good hockey team tonight. If you were at the game, you saw it.”
The Bob Motzko era is not off to the start Gopher fans would have wanted, but the coach is nothing if not blunt.
The Minnesota Gophers (1-2-1) got beat by a better team Friday evening, losing at home to #4 Minnesota State (6-1-0) 5-1.
Minnesota State got on the board first, with Dallas Gerads putting a chance past Gopher goalie Mat Robson at 5:56 of the first period.
The Gophers responded at 14:33 of the first to tie the game at 1-1. Brent Gates put a rebound in the slot past MSU’s Mathias Israelsson. Clayton Phillips and Tommy Novak had the assists on the power play goal.
Just over a minute later, MSU again took the lead when Charlie Gerard scored on a nice tic-tac-toe passing play after a Gopher turnover in transition. The first period ended at 2-1 Mankato.
The Mavericks padded their lead early in the second, when Nick Rivera scored another one right in front of the Gopher net on a two-on-one chance caused by a Gopher misplay.
The Gophers started putting the pedal to the metal as the second period wore on, attempting 24 shots in the middle stanza to Minnesota State’s 9, but Mathias Israelsson kept Minnesota on one goal throughout the second.
“We had a stretch in the second period where we started to see our game,” said Motzko. “We got a little life on the bench. It’s too bad, they made three goals on mistakes that we made, and we’d sure like to have them back.”
The period ended with Mankato holding a 3-1 lead.
The Mavericks got another early goal in the third to put the nail in the coffin for the Gophers, and another shorthanded goal late in the third to seal the deal. The final count was 5-1 in favor of the Mavericks.
The coach’s did his best to see the positives in the early-season game: “Our forwards sustained pressure for a good stretch of the second period, which we need to do to relieve pressure to our defensemen. They didn’t do it in the first and they didn’t do it in the third.”
Motzko referenced the “mentality” that he wants the team to play with, and that resetting that mentality will be a key for the team going forward.
The series turns to Mankato Saturday, where the Gophers and Mavericks face off in the rubber match of the series. The puck drops at 7PM Saturday evening.