Szmatula, Gates score for Gophers, but are no match for the #1 Huskies’ firepower
St. Cloud, MN – The in-state losing streak continues for the Minnesota Golden Gophers.
In their 100th all-time matchup, the #1 ranked Huskies (13-2-3 Overall, 7-2-1 NCHC) blitzed the #10 Gophers (12-10-1, 4-7-1-1 B1G), controlling the play throughout the game and winning by a decisive 5-2 score. Minnesota’s last win against the Huskies came 11/1/2014. Since that win, they’ve lost four straight to SCSU, eight straight to UMD, are 2-4 against Mankato and are 1-1 against Bemidji, for a total of 3-17 over their last 20 games against the other four D1 programs in the state.
The Gophers took the lead early in this contest, with Mike Szmatula’s wrister banking off the inside of the pipe before hitting the back of the net at 2:34 of the first. St. Cloud came roaring back, scoring in the middle of the first to tie, twice in the first six minutes of the second to break the game open, and in the first minute of the third to put the game out of reach at 4-1. Brent Gates tipped in a Steve Johnson shot from the point at 7:06 of the third to pull the Gophers within two at 4-2, and after that Minnesota played its best hockey of the night, generating several chances and almost drawing within one on a Tyler Sheehy shot that hit the goalpost.
St. Cloud scored with just over seven minutes to play in the third to put the game officially out of reach at 5-2, which is where the scoreline would finish.
Minnesota put 23 shots on St. Cloud goalie Jeff Smith, 11 of which in the third period, while Eric Schierhorn made 29 saves on 34 shots in the losing effort. The Gopher powerplay was 0-4 on the night, dropping to 13% overall, good for 53rd nationally. There are only 7 teams worse on the powerplay than Minnesota this season. The #18 overall penalty kill was a respectable 1-5.
The Gophers and Huskies battle again Sunday evening at Mariucci Arena. The game is on Fox Sports North, with the puck dropping at 6PM. The game can be streamed on BTN2Go or Fox Sports Go, and can be heard on AM1130 radio.
Postgame video with Sheehy, Gates & Lucia