Gopher men’s hockey stays perfect with 4-2 win, sweep at Michigan State
#5 Gopher men’s hockey program recorded its third-straight Big Ten sweep of the young season and improved to 6-0-0 for the first time in nearly two decades after a 4-2 win over Michigan State on Friday night at Munn Ice Arena.
Minnesota (6-0-0 overall, 6-0-0-0-0-0 Big Ten) has yet to trail this season and heads into the first half finale next week at Michigan with its best start since the 2001-02 campaign when the Maroon & Gold won six-straight to open the season and were unbeaten in its first 13 contests (11-0-2).
The Gophers have also won eight-straight games dating back to last season – the longest winning streak for the program since eight-straight wins in 2006-07 when the ‘U’ went on a 22-game unbeaten streak (19-0-3). The 2006-07 season also marked the last time Minnesota won three-straight two-game series.
On Friday in East Lansing, eight Gophers recorded points in the win with Scott Reedy leading the way for the second night in a row with another two-point showing. The senior forward, who leads Minnesota with five goals and seven points this season, has scored in five of the program’s six games and earned his third game winner of the year. He added an assist on Sampo Ranta’s late empty-net goal to close out the sweep.
Ben Meyers started things out for Minnesota with his third of the year at 5:03 of the first period off a setup from Bryce Brodzinski. Jaxon Nelson made it 2-0 at 15:27 of the opening period with his first of the year off feeds from linemates Jack Perbix and Cullen Munson.
Michigan State (2-3-1, 1-3-0-1-0-0) answered quickly with a goal from Kyle Haskins at 15:46 and found the equalizer at 3:50 of the second period off the stick of Dennis Cesana.
But Reedy closed out the period with the eventual deciding goal as the senior scored four seconds into a Minnesota power play at 14:14 when he won a draw to Jackson LaCombe and then deflected the defenseman’s attempt into the net. The Gophers were 1-for-3 on the advantage with power-play goals in four of the last five games.
Ranta’s empty netter closed out the series at 19:49 of the third period as Minnesota has now outscored opponents 20-7 on the season.
November’s national Goaltender of the Month, Jack LaFontaine continued to stand out in net for Minnesota with a 31-save performance to improve to 6-0-0 on the year. The senior earned his eighth-straight win for Minnesota and has allowed two goals or fewer in each of his last 11 appearances.
The Gophers held a 36-33 advantage in shots on goal – recording their highest total of the season and outshooting the opposition for the fourth-straight game.
Minnesota closes out the first half next week with a two-game Big Ten series at Michigan – playing Tuesday, Dec. 8 at 7:30 p.m. CT and Wednesday, Dec. 9 at 5:30 p.m. CT. Both games will be televised on the Big Ten Network and streamed on the FOX Sports App with the radio broadcast on 1130 KTLK-AM/103.5 FM.
Quotes from Coach
“That’s our sixth game where we get off to a great start…it couldn’t have been a better start for being on the road,” Minnesota head coach Bob Motzko said. “Give Michigan State credit – they battled back hard.”
“It was a good old-fashioned gut out – we had to gut one out down the stretch.”
Minnesota went 2-for-2 on the penalty kill in the series finale and remains unblemished at 15-for-15 on the season. The Gophers are tied for the best penalty kill in the nation and are the only program among unblemished teams to have successfully killed off more than 10 penalties.
Courtesy: University of Minnesota Sports Information