A reshuffling of the lineup was not enough for Michigan State to overcome No. 9 Minnesota, as the Golden Gophers skated away with a 6-3 victory and wrapped up a weekend sweep of the Spartans.
Minnesota outshot Michigan State 60-24 and had seven power play opportunities on the night.
The first period was an exciting twenty minutes, featuring plenty of penalties and a few goals.
It was Jesse Tucker’s line that struck first for the Spartans. The freshman stripped the puck from the Gophers goaltender Jack Lafontaine and slid it to a racing Erik Middendorf at the front of the net. The junior forward buried the puck into a naked net, notching his sixth of the season.
Less than a minute after the goal, a slashing penalty on junior defenseman Nicolas Müller gave the Golden Gophers an opportunity to even up the score on the man advantage. Thanks to a diving save from sophomore goaltender Pierce Charleson and a few well-timed blocks, MSU killed off the first chunk of the power play. However, a cross checking penalty committed by sophomore defenseman Aiden Gallacher gave the Gophers 11 seconds of 5-on-3 action and an ensuing power play.
The Spartans continued to put the clamps down defensively, limiting chances and ensuring that Minnesota did not get too comfortable in the offensive zone. Michigan State escaped both penalties with a one-goal lead.
Just over halfway through the first, MSU went on its first power play after a roughing call on the Gophers. It did not take long for the Spartans to cash in. Eleven seconds after the call, sophomore forward Jeremy Davidson tapped in a rebound at the front of the net, extending the lead to two for Michigan State.
A minute after Davidson’s tally, senior defenseman Cole Krygier committed the Spartans third penalty of the first period. Michigan State’s penalty kill made its seventeenth consecutive successful stop and retained the two-goal lead.
Five minutes later, a penalty on junior defenseman Jagger Joshua sent Minnesota to its fourth power play of the period. The Gophers finally managed to convert, as freshman forward Chaz Lucius snapped the Spartans successful penalty kill streak, tapping the puck in at the front of the net.
After twenty minutes, Michigan State led Minnesota 2-1.
Minnesota came out of the locker room looking to prove its rank as the No. 9 team in the country. The Gophers tilted the ice heavily towards the offensive zone, putting heavy and consistent pressure on Charleson and Michigan State’s defensemen. The sophomore goaltender stood tall in the crease, making fantastic save after fantastic save, keeping the one-goal lead intact.
Michigan State’s counterattack put further pressure on the No. 9 Gophers. After plenty of time in the defensive zone, the Spartan forwards finally managed to push the puck back to Minnesota's zone. Tucker slung a loose puck across the crease to Middendorf, who tapped it in for his second goal of the game.
Minnesota went right back to applying pressure after the MSU goal. Senior forward Adam Goodsir gave the Gophers their fifth power play attempt of the game, but for the fourth time in two periods, the Spartan penalty kill unit held the opposing power play scoreless.
The final minutes of the second were a disaster for the Spartans—after plenty of shots on goal, the Gophers finally started finding the back of the net. Thirty-eight seconds later, Minnesota flipped the puck harmlessly at the net —and it was knocked in by a Michigan State player to knot up the game, 3-3.
Minnesota continued to build on the momentum of the second period, scoring just 22 seconds into the third period. To add insult to injury, senior defenseman Christian Krygier was also called for a tripping, although the subsequent Minnesota power play was killed off.
Just after the penalty kill expired, the Golden Gophers netted yet another goal to extend the lead to two.
The Golden Gophers topped off the win with a sixth goal in the final minute, heading back home with a 6-3 win and a weekend sweep.
Michigan State is back on the road next weekend, facing off against the Wisconsin Badgers in a two-game weekend series. The opening puck drop is set for 8 p.m. Friday night.
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