The No. 19 Michigan State hockey team (14-13-1) bounced back in a big way Saturday night, taking down Minnesota (13-11-4) 4-2 to salvage a weekend series split.
The Spartans used three goals in the third period to lift themselves to victory, gaining three crucial points and moving into a second-place tie with Ohio State and Minnesota in the Big Ten Standings. Senior defenseman Butrus Ghafari scored the game-winning goal midway through the third period, and senior goaltender John Lethemon finished the game with 36 saves.
The Gophers controlled the pace of play in the first period, outshooting the green and white 18-9 after the opening twenty minutes. Minnesota forward Scott Reedy found the back of the net with just five minutes to go in the period, scoring his third goal of the weekend to put his team up 1-0 heading into the second period.
Patrick Khodorenko scored his team-leading 15th goal of the season 15:36 into the second period to tie the game 1-1, capitalizing on a rebound that found his stick after senior forward Logan Lambdin’s initial shot was saved. Minnesota forward Blake McLaughlin took the lead back for the Gophers just three minutes later, scoring his second goal of the weekend and sending MSU back to the locker room down a goal after two periods of play.
Michigan State was finally able to break through in the third period. Sophomore Dennis Cesana tied the game up 2-2 five minutes into the third period, finishing a one-timer from junior Mitchell Lewandowski on the power play, and the Spartans never looked back.
Ghafari put MSU ahead for good with ten minutes remaining in the third, tipping in a shot from teammate Tommy Miller. The goal was Ghafari’s second of the season. Just three minutes later, junior Brody Stevens scored to put the Spartans ahead 4-2, which proved to be the final score, and gave Michigan State a victory they absolutely had to have.
The Spartans return home next weekend to face in-state rival Michigan. Puck drop is set for 6 p.m. Feb. 14.