After falling to No. 4 Minnesota in a 5-0 shutout last night, No. 13 Michigan State hockey returned to the ice to face No. 4 Minnesota in a Saturday night rematch.
Despite Minnesota taking the sweep and keeping the first spot in the Big Ten, the Spartans were much more prepared for the Gophers the second time around.
After scoring three goals in the final ten minutes of the game last night, Minnesota was unable to get on the board until the last five minutes of the first period on a 2-on-0 breakaway goal by forward Jimmy Snuggerud, with assists from forward Logan Cooley and defenseman Brock Faber.
Improving from the previous night, Michigan State ended the first period with 13 shots to Minnesota’s 12.
The second period wasn’t much better for the Spartans with the Gophers scoring three more goals to put them up 4-0 by the second intermission.
The Spartans had a harder time keeping the puck out of the hands of the Gophers during the second and the visitors spent a good chunk of the period on MSU’s side of the ice. Minnesota was able to capitalize on MSU’s mistakes for the second night in a row, allowing the Gophers to beat graduate goaltender Dylan St. Cyr in the net three separate times.
Forward Bryce Brodzinski earned the second goal for the Gophers 7:20 into the second period.
Then less than four minutes later, Minnesota’s third goal of the night was recorded by forward Jaxon Nelson. Nelson was assisted by forward Mason Nevers and defenseman Luke Mittelstadt.
Forward Matthew Knies earned his second goal of the weekend and first of the night, in the final five minutes of the period.
After a five-period scoring deficit, the Spartans played their best period of the series in the third. MSU was finally able to get on the board thanks to a goal by sophomore forward Jesse Tucker at the 2:19 mark, bringing the home crowd to its feet. It was Tucker’s fourth of the season.
The Spartans were finally starting to find their offensive legs as junior forward Jeremy Davidson netted a goal of his own, putting MSU within two halfway through the period.
Nevers added to Minnesota’s lead with his first goal of the weekend at the 11:21 mark of the third. The final Gopher blow to MSU was a goal by Faber 15:34 into the third period.
Just over a minute later, Davidson responded with his second goal of the night with a shot from the right circle and Munn rocking again. The Spartans trailed 6-3 with less than four minutes left to play.
Contrary to Friday night, the Spartans outshot the Gophers 43-41, highlighting the talent of Minnesota goaltender Justen Close. Close finished .930 with 40 saves, while St. Cyr walked away with 35 saves and a .854 save percentage.
For the second night in a row, no penalties were called on either team, resulting in zero power plays on the weekend.
The Spartans will have a chance to bounce back as they face No. 5 Michigan in a home-and-home series next Friday and Saturday.
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