Gopher hockey stays hot, beats Michigan State 4-2

Brannon McManus scored the game-winning goal and assisted on two others as the No. 4 Gopher men’s hockey program earned a 4-2 win over Michigan State on Friday night at 3M Arena at Mariucci.

Behind multi-point games from McManus, Sampo Ranta (one goal, one assist) and Jackson LaCombe (one goal, one assist), Minnesota earned its NCAA-leading 18th win of the season and reclaimed the Mariucci-Bessone Trophy as the Gophers improved to 3-0-0 this year against the Spartans and will win the regular-season series between the two conference rivals.

Minnesota (18-5-0 overall, 14-5-0-0-0-0 Big Ten) jumped out to a two-goal lead late in the first period when Ben Meyers scored his 10th goal of the year at 16:40 with assists from Cullen Munson and LaCombe. Less than three minutes later, LaCombe added his fourth of the year at 19:12 with assists from McManus and Staudacher. LaCombe reclaimed sole possession of the Big Ten scoring lead among defensemen with 16 points on the year and set a new career high with his fourth goal of the season.

McManus slid home the eventual deciding goal at 12:45 of the second period as Minnesota increased its lead to 3-0 with the senior’s eighth tally of the season. Ranta and Brock Faber earned assists on the game-winning goal while the alternate captain has now tallied 20 points or more in each of the last three seasons.

Michigan State (7-12-2, 5-11-1-2-1-0) found the net with a shorthanded goal from Tommy Apap at 14:42.

Ranta added his 15th goal of the season at 6:32 of the third period as the junior now sits alone in second place in national goal scoring while the forward also has a career-high 25 points. McManus earned his third point of the night with an assist on the play. Josh Nodler added Michigan State’s second of the night at 10:53 to close out the night’s scoring.

Jack LaFontaine (16-5-0) made 19 saves on 21 shots to pick up his NCAA-best 16th win of the season. The alternate captain had his shutout streak snapped at 153:59 after posting back-to-back shutouts last weekend at Notre Dame. Drew DeRidder (7-12-2) made 34 saves on 28 shots to take the loss for the Spartans.

Minnesota held a 38-21 advantage on shots while going 4-for-4 on the penalty kill and 0-for-2 on the power play.

Quotes from McManus
“You could tell he wanted that one pretty bad, and I’m going to give it to him – he’s a goal scorer,” McManus said on Minnesota’s final goal of the night from Ranta. “I think it was one of the harder shots I’ve seen him take. He isn’t going to miss those.”

Minnesota improved to 13-0-0 all-time when Ranta records a multi-point performance, 17-1-1 when McManus accomplishes the feat and 6-0-0 when LaCombe does so.

Up Next: Spartan Series Finale
Minnesota concludes its series with the Spartans on Saturday, Feb. 20 at 5:00 p.m. CT (CT (TV: FOX Sports North/FOX Sports Detroit; Stream: BTN+/FOX Sports Go; Radio: 1130 KTLK-AM/103.5 FM).

Courtesy: University of Minnesota Sports Information