Gophers improve to 5-0 with 3-1 at Michigan State

The No. 5 Gopher men’s hockey program is off to its best start in nine years after besting Michigan State 3-1 in Thursday’s series opener at Munn Ice Arena.

The last time Minnesota (5-0-0 overall, 5-0-0-0-0-0 Big Ten) started a season with five-straight wins was the 2011-12 campaign that ended with a WCHA regular-season championship and an NCAA Frozen Four appearance.

Ben Meyers, Sampo Ranta and Scott Reedy scored for the Maroon & Gold on Thursday night while Robbie Stucker assisted on Minnesota’s two power-play goals in his first appearance of the season.

The Gophers, who have now outscored opponents 16-5 on the season, built a three-goal lead over the first two periods. Meyers opened the night with a power-play goal at 7:21 of the first period for his second tally of the season before Ranta added to the lead less than two minutes later with his second of the year at 8:57. Minnesota has now outscored its opponents 7-1 in the first period this year.

The ‘U’ added to the lead with another power-play goal 4:09 into the second period when Reedy scored his team-leading fourth goal of the year after setting up Ranta’s eventual game winner in the first period.
Michigan State (2-2-1, 1-2-0-1-0-0) put its lone goal on the board at 16:18 of the third period from Cole Krygier and would cut no deeper into the Minnesota lead.

Jack LaFontaine, who was named the national goaltender of the month for November earlier on Thursday, posted another noteworthy performance in goal for the Gophers. LaFontaine (5-0-0) earned his seventh-straight win with 24 saves on 25 shots in Thursday’s victory. The senior has made 13-straight starts for Minnesota and has allowed two goals or fewer in each of his last 10 appearances. The Michigan State goal in the third period ended the alternate captain’s shutout streak at 143:19 dating back to the Ohio State game on Nov. 23.

Minnesota held a 34-25 advantage in shots and has now recorded its highest two shot totals in its last two games while outshooting opponents in four of its five games this year.

The Gophers and Spartans close out the series on Friday night at 7:00 p.m. CT