Lethargic Gophers Lose 4-2 to Spartans
Don Lucia - “The best team won tonight”
Minneapolis, MN – There was no magic comeback for Minnesota tonight.
In a slow, plodding, thoroughly uninteresting game, the Gophers (18-11-3 Overall, 9-4-3-0 B1G) never could get anything going, eventually falling to the Michigan State Spartans (14-14-2, 8-6-2-2 B1G) by a final score of 4-2.
Minnesota’s speed and skill was on display for about the first five minutes of the first period, as the Gophers racked up completed passes and raced up the ice with agility and finesse. However, Michigan State was able to turn the tables on Minnesota, playing a sound physical game that knocked the Gophers off the puck and off of their style for the rest of the contest.
The first period was scoreless, and darn near excitement-less too. Minnesota only mustered seven shots on goal in the period to MSU’s 14, and went a solid eight minutes in the middle of the period without mustering much if anything on offense.
Despite the fact that there was actual goal scoring in the second period, the game did not get much more enjoyable. MSU got on the board first, when Minnesota native and Wild draft pick John Draeger scored his first goal of the season just 0:44 into the middle frame. The Gophers bounced back, as captain Kyle Rau shoveled a loose puck in the crease past MSU’s Jake Hildebrand at 4:09. Ryan Keller gave MSU the lead again at 2-1 with just 1:18 left in the second when his bad-angle shot squirted through Adam Wilcox and into the net.
The big third period push for the Gophers never really showed up. Minnesota did a lot of standing around, and even though they were down by one heading into the period, only mustered something like three shots on goal throughout the first ten minutes of action. Michael Ferrantino put MSU ahead for good when he converted a rebound at 7:04 to put MSU up by two. Kyle Rau scored his 15th of the season and second of the night on the powerplay with less than five minutes remaining in the game, but Hudson Fasching took an uncharacteristic ‘dumb’ penalty at 1:52 to ice it for the Spartans. Thomas Ebbing added an insurance goal for MSU at 19:23 to end the scoring and the game at 4-2.
This loss hurts for the Gophers – Michigan needs only one point in their game tomorrow versus Wisconsin to take the lead in the B1G standings with just two weekends left in the regular season. More importantly, though, the loss dropped Minnesota to 13th in the PairWise Rankings. The Gophers now sit squarely on the bubble, and likely need four more victories before the NCAA tournament in order to be securely into the dance. That means sweeping out the rest of the regular season (next week’s series at Ohio State, followed by a home set versus Penn State), or winning a game or two in the B1G tournament.
Notes and Quotes:
Three Stars: 3) Kyle Rau, 2) Michael Ferrantino, 1) Ryan Keller
Final shots on goal: MSU 34, MN 24
Gophers with multiple point games: Rau (2G-0A), Fasching (0-2)
Rau, on giving up the first goal: “They’re something like 12-1-2 when scoring the first goal. We came back on them last night, but we can’t keep getting down early and expect to win.”
Lucia, on MSU: “We knew coming in they’re a good team that’s been playing well. We talked about how we’ve had a hard time recently winning two games against them. Even earlier in the year we were outplayed in the second game and wound up with a tie.” On the potential to break Doug Woog’s all-time wins record tonight: “I didn’t really think about it. I’m thinking about getting one win.” On what the team needs to do next weekend: “Bend our knees.”
The Ryder Cup – the trophy for the biennial golf tournament of the same name played between team USA and team Europe – was at Mariucci Arena tonight. The tournament is being held at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska in October 2016. Seeing the Ryder Cup was by far the most exciting thing in Mariucci Arena tonight.