Michigan State hockey squanders first place in loss to Minnesota
On the back of a 28-save night from its goalie, the Minnesota Golden Gophers (8-10-4) got revenge on the Michigan State Spartans (11-10-1), winning 2-0 at Munn Ice Arena Saturday night.
MSU came into this matchup with a chance of gaining first place in the Big Ten with a win, but the Gophers played spoiler on Saturday night.
In the first period, the Golden Gophers got out to a fast start. Just over a minute in, the Gophers caught the Spartans sleeping and Scott Reedy lasered in a goal to the top right corner off a Ben Brinkman assist. This is all they would need.
“Scott Reedy is a good player," MSU coach Danton Cole said. "He picked a corner and that ended up being the difference.”
Due to the quick-hitting goal from the Gophers, Michigan State was forced to play aggressively in the remainder of the first period with a total of 11 shots in the first period. The Spartans had many chances, including when junior forward Tommy Apap was one on one with Minnesota's freshman goalkeeper Jared Moe and shot it straight into the chest of Moe’s six foot, four inch, 210 pound frame.
MSU was able to at least slow the bleeding in the first period by killing two Minnesota power plays to keep the game within striking distance.
To begin the second period, both teams continued similar play from the first period with a close, but no cigar, approach on offense. MSU junior Brody Stevens had an early chance at goal, only for it to ricochet off the right post of the goal. Minnesota followed up the shot attempt with one of their own right off the post.
A major reason for the Spartans struggle to score was the incredible performance from Moe. Early in the second period, MSU was getting out fast on the break, and Butrus Ghafari looked to tie it up for the green and white, only for the youngster from New Prague, Minnesota to snatch out of the air with incredible cat-like reflexes. His poise at such a young age was a sight to see.
“Their goalie Moe, he played a pretty good game, he made some big saves when they needed it,” Stevens said.
Poe’s phenomenal play continued late into the second period. The Spartans gained a two-man advantage on a Brinkman and Ryan Zuhlsdorf tripping penalty. During the power play, Poe racked up three saves, keeping the lead at one for the Gophers.
The offensive woes for the Spartans along with Poe’s great play continued throughout the third period. Promising plays for the green and white were spoiled by bad passing or incredible goalie play from Poe.
Halfway through the third period, senior forward Logan Lambdin busted loose and it seemed like the opportunity the Spartans were searching for all night, only for it to be squandered by a mishandling of the puck at the goal.
“It's a move he does a lot, he just missed the puck on the backside,” Cole said. “That would've been great for the team, it would have made a hell of a third period.”
With under two minutes remaining, the Spartans decided to pull goalie John Lethemon for one last gasp at a goal, only for it to result in a goal seconds later for the Golden Gophers. That was the dagger.
However, even with the loss, the team was optimistic, and had their heads up high.
“For the most part, I thought our guys worked hard," Cole said. “There was a little bit more of a wall at their blue line today than what there was last night.”
Stevens said he was disappointed with the result, not the effort.
“We played hard, all credit to Minnesota, they did things right, they came out and played a really good game," Stevens said. “Kind of leaves a bad taste in your mouth.”
The Spartans will travel to Madison looking to bounce back this upcoming weekend for a two-game series against the Wisconsin Badgers, who the Spartans swept in their last series.