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MSU hockey blows lead, drops game two to No. 11 Minnesota

December 10, 2016
Senior forward Thomas Ebbing (28) and senior forward oe Cox (21) fight for the puck during the second period in the game against Minnesota on Dec. 9, 2016 at Munn Ice Arena. The Spartans were defeated by the Gophers, 4-2.
Senior forward Thomas Ebbing (28) and senior forward oe Cox (21) fight for the puck during the second period in the game against Minnesota on Dec. 9, 2016 at Munn Ice Arena. The Spartans were defeated by the Gophers, 4-2.

After a hearty effort to keep No. 11 Minnesota (9-5-2, 3-1 Big Ten) without a power play goal the previous night, the opposite came true for the MSU hockey team (4-8-1, 0-2 Big Ten) in its game two defeat to the Golden Gophers, 4-2. Special teams would ultimately be the difference in the match with the Spartans faltering on its three man-advantage opportunities.

Junior goaltender Ed Minney continued his stellar play, despite allowing the three goals. After a career-high 40 saves in game one, Minney denied 30 shots in game two, on his way to earning the third star of the game.

The Spartan lineup received a slight shakeup, as freshman defenseman Anthony Scarsella slotted in for a fellow newcomer, defenseman Butrus Ghafari. While the night before, Ghafari suited up to take on the Golden Gophers, it was a different story Saturday evening as he didn't play because of the coach's decision.

In a similar storyline from game one of the series, the Spartans were badly outshot, 11-4, by the Golden Gophers within the first 20 minutes of game play.

During the opening period, though, the Spartans created some of their own puck luck on the meager opportunities they had. Head coach Tom Anastos for the past few weeks has stressed his team needed to create traffic in front of the net to generate offense.

The strategy worked as the puck found the back of the net on a tip past Minnesota goaltender Eric Schierhorn, much to the delight of the home crowd. Senior forward JT Stenglein was credited for the goal, his second of the series after coming into it with none to his name. It gave MSU the early lead, 16:09 left in the first period, which the Spartans would carry into the break.

Coming out of the first intermission, the Spartans continued their hot shooting ways and snatched up the momentum with the second goal of the game. This time around, senior forward Thomas Ebbing came through for the home team, going top-shelf to get it past Schierhorn.

With the flow of the game shifting toward the green and white, it shifted as the Golden Gophers answered on an unassisted slap-shot, courtesy of defenseman Jake Bischoff. It sailed past junior goaltender Ed Minney and ended his shutout effort.

After a quick start to the period from the Spartans, the away team would begin to pile on, vanquishing the deficit it once stared in the face. On their seventh power play of the weekend, the Golden Gophers were finally able to to convert. Forward Ryan Pitlick blasted the puck into the net off a one-timer and a perfect setup.

The game would be held at a standstill going into the break and until about midway through the final period. The Golden Gophers converted on their second power play goal of the night, with forward Brent Gates Jr. scoring to give the away team the lead.

While the Spartans would have their own power play chance to tie things up later in the period, they were unable to do so. After one final push with an empty net, MSU was unable to come up with the tying goal in the waning moments of the game.

The Golden Gophers scored their fourth goal of the match on an empty netter, similar to game one where they sealed it in similar fashion. The away team would score four unanswered goal after the Spartans took the early 2-0 lead.

MSU will host Northeastern University at 3 p.m. on Dec. 18 again at Munn Ice Arena. 

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