MSU hockey swept by Minnesota, loses second game 3-1.
They came with an edge. They came with the fight and drive of a team looking to reconcile its thrashing the night before. Yet, the grit and the fight wasn’t enough to avoid yet another lead given up. MSU hockey (5-17-2) dropped its eighth straight game, a 3-1 loss to Minnesota (11-10-0) on Saturday night.
MSU came out flying from the opening puck drop, buzzing around the Minnesota zone and nearly converting early. But the opening act energy would be short lived as the Spartans failed to sustain their early dominance.
The Gophers shook off the lackluster start and began to take over much as they had the previous night. Maintaining possession easily, Minnesota unleashed 14 shots in the period on MSU senior goalie Jake Hildebrand. Those shots however, were largely easy saves for him as the tight MSU defense kept the Gophers on the perimeter and away from the dangerous areas the Gophers dug themselves into the night before.
As the period wound down, the Spartans’ frustrations boiled over and would set the tone for the next period. Junior forward Mackenzie MacEachern took exception to a Michael Brodzinski hit on his teammate and got in Brodzinski’s face. MacEachern thrusted his stick into the arm of Brodzinski causing other Gophers to take exception as well and a near fight ensued.
It was something the Spartans have lacked for most of the season; a willingness to exert their toughness. It sparked them.
Nearly three minutes into the second, senior forward Matt DeBlouw drove to the net and cut to the slot. He fought off two Gopher defenders, faked a shot, and in a show of patience, out waited Gopher’s goalie Eric Schierhorn long enough to rip a shot into the top corner to give MSU the 1-0 lead.
It looked like MSU’s night from then on.
Though Minnesota continued to outshoot the Spartans, MSU was able to keep the Gopher’s prime chances to a minimum. The Spartans killed off back-to-back penalties. Ryan Wood drove end-to-end only to be thwarted by Schierhorn after a beautiful deke. The game was within grasp but a Gopher left alone in front would kill the Spartan mojo in the third period.
Justin Kloos cut to the front with the puck backhanded it off the post then slid his own rebound through Hildebrand’s legs 31 seconds into the third period. Minnesota regained its command on the game as MSU struggled to get shots on net; ultimately firing only 18 shots on the net compared with MInnesota’s 32.
Connor Reilly would provide the dagger with 8:26 to go in the game when he caught a pass from Kloos, spun around and wristed the puck five hole on Hilldebrand.
MSU would pull Hildebrand with two minutes to go in the game, sustaining the most pressure it had all game. It wasn’t to be. And as the horn rang Leon Bristedt sent the puck into the empty cage making the final, 3-1.
Head coach Tom Anastos sounded like a broken record when he talked about how the guys in his locker room aren’t quitters. The Spartans have backed up their coach’s word time and again, but it hasn’t been enough to translate into a win. The Spartans have now lost eight straight.