Mankato beats Minnesota 4-1, drops Gophers to 1-15 in their last 16 against MN schools
Mankato, MN – If it feels like a long time to you since the Gophers beat another Minnesota school, you’re in good, miserable company.
The Minnesota State Mavericks (8-4-1 Overall, 5-4-1 WCHA) used two powerplay goals to power their offense past the Gophers (4-3-2 Overall, 0-0 B1G) 4-1 Friday night in Mankato. Minnesota has won one out of their last 16 games against their in-state rivals.
The first period opened with a nice flurry for the Gophers, but Minnesota State survived and drew a powerplay opportunity when Ryan Lindgren went off for cross-checking at 1:32. This time it was Minnesota to weather the storm, with sound goaltending from Eric Schierhorn and good positional play from the Gopher skaters.
Minnesota State would strike first at 12:26 of the first period, as Brad McClure found the twine behind Eric Schierhorn to put the Mavericks up 1-0. McClure’s turnaround wrister from the top of the slot may have taken a deflection before hitting the back of the Gopher net.
MSU earned another powerplay late in the first and were able to capitalize again. C.J. Franklin deflected a knee-high shot from Ian Scheid at the point into the Gopher net at 16:31 to give the Mavericks a 2-0 lead.
Minnesota drew their first powerplay at 18:22 of the first, but were not able to cash in before the period ended.
The Gophers opened the second period with a brief 22 second powerplay, but were again unable to convert on the short chance.
Minnesota drew another early powerplay chance at 18:40 of the second, and were finally able to capitalize and get on the board. Tommy Novak found the soft-spot in the defense right out front and potted a great pass from Tyler Sheehy to pull the Gophers within one goal at 2-1. Mike Szmatula earned the other assist on Novak’s fourth goal of the season.
The Gophers drew a few more penalty chances in the middle of the second period – credit that to the consistent effort Minnesota gave in the second stanza. However, they were not able to convert, and Minnesota State notched another goal on their next powerplay to increase their lead again to a two-goal margin.
The nail in the coffin came with just under two minutes left in the second. The Gophers created a good turnover and rushed the puck up the ice, but a missed connection pass into the offensive zone between Szmatula and Taylor Cammarata resulted in a turnover for MSU. The Mavericks rushed the puck back down and created a quality chance, and while the rest of the Gopher team stood around looking for the puck, Brad McClure picked up the loose puck and deposited it into the net.
MSU entered the 3rd period with a big 4-1 lead – a lead they would not relinquish. Although both teams played competent hockey in the third period, there was very little intensity from either side. Nick Lehr entered the game at goaltender in the third for the Gophers and stopped all 10 shots he faced in the period.
With the loss, the Gophers drop to 1-15 in their last 16 games against the other four D1 hockey programs in MN (MSU, UMD, SCSU and BSU). The last time Minnesota won two in a row against MN competition was a sweep in Bemidji in October 2014.
A big key in those 15 losses in the Minnesota penalty kill. The Gophers penalty kill against in-state competition in their last 16 games is an abysmal 66.1%.
All night long, the Gophers got beat in the circle. MSU won 37 of 57 draws on the evening.
Minnesota will try to right all of those records Saturday night in the friendly confines of Mariucci Arena. The game is an 8PM start time due to the 2:30 Gopher Football tilt vs. Northwestern. Be sure to plan some extra time on your trip to the game, as exiting football traffic could be clogging up the roads.