Gophers Overwhelm Spartans Offensively, Take 4 of 6 Points
Minnesota Offense Finally Breaks Staunch Michigan State Defense
Friday night’s shootout loss was a classic Gopher performance – Minnesota put 46 shots on the Spartan net and had the puck for the vast majority of the game, but just could not get that separation goal. In the end, the Spartans kept themselves in the game long enough to score the tying goal and earned themselves a tie and a shootout win because of it.
Saturday afternoon, the Gophers got those separation goals early and were able to ride the lead all the way to a win.
Minnesota (12-2-2 Overall, 3-0-1-0 B1G) drew a lot of momentum early from their special teams. A weak spot of the team early in the year, the Gophers killed a Michigan State powerplay just five minutes into the game before turning on the offensive pressure. Minnesota’s offensive zone time and volume of shots took their toll on the Spartan defense – numerous Michigan State defensemen limped off the ice after blocking Gopher shots – and eventually the Gophers would strike first after an extended shift in the MSU zone. Christian Isackson got his own rebound on a shallow-angle shot and stuffed the puck between the near post and Spartan goalie Jake Hildebrand’s right leg to give the Gophers a first period 1-0 lead.
Minnesota could never extend the lead on Friday night, and they let the Spartans hang around long enough to get themselves back into the game. Saturday afternoon was a different story. The Gophers got a powerplay tally from Seth Ambroz late in the first period and a Mike Reilly goal early in the second to take a 3-0 lead that they’d never look back from.
Michigan State scored late in the second period to make the game interesting, but the Gophers played a disciplined, defensive third period to salt the game away. The Spartans scored with 0.1 seconds left with their goalie pulled to draw to within one at 3-2, but the clock wound to zero before the Spartans could mount another attack.
Minnesota now goes on their extended winter break. The Gophers are 12-2-2 through the first half of the year, and they face Colgate in the Mariucci Classic on January 3rd.
State Edges Gophers in a Shootout
Spartan Goaltending, Shootout Effort Gives MSU Edge
It’s pretty clear the Gophers are a better team than Michigan State in a number of ways, but finishing was certainly not one of those attributes tonight. After playing very well and dominating in many aspects, including peppering the Spartan net with over 40 shots, the Gophers and Spartans skated to a 2 – 2 65 minute tie on Friday night, with Michigan State gaining an extra tally in the Big Ten standings after scoring a 1 – 0 shootout win.
It was what college hockey fans would probably figure to be a typical first period at Munn Arena. Certainly they don’t have a reputation for having a rabid, loud fan base and it appeared at puck drop like there weren’t many people actually there. Regardless, it was a fairly eventful period if only because of what looked to be a serious leg injury to senior defenseman Jake Parenteau, who crashed into the boards after making a hit on a Spartan forward. His leg bent awkwardly and he was in significant pain as he was helped off the ice.
The Gophers did manage to get the lead just before the intermission. Jake Bischoff corralled the puck down through the circle and his pass over to Taylor Cammarata was slapped past Spartan goalie Jake Hildebrand by Cammarata, his 4th of the year. Hildebrand got a piece of it, but it slipped by him and just over the goal line.
The Spartans tied it just one minute into the 2nd period. A brutal turnover by Mike Reilly at the offensive blue line led eventually to Mackenzie MacEachern coming in on a partial breakaway. Adam Wilcox didn’t do himself or anyone any favors as MacEachern’s ‘attempt’ at a shot ended up tying the game. Not sure if he tried to whiff like he did but he got just enough of the puck to lift it up, over Wilcox’s shoulder and off the post and in.
At times in the period it appeared as though the Gophers had an extra attacker on the ice but they just couldn’t get a grip on a game that was there for them to jump on. The power play looked good in many respects but couldn’t get one past Hildebrand as the Spartan defense collapsed well around him.
The Gophers took a 2 – 1 lead early in the 3rd. Justin Kloos took a shot from the circle and it deflected in off of Spartan defender Jake Chelios for a power play tally.
But as the feeling of the night dictated, the Spartans got a garbage goal to tie it. A weak pass/shot towards the net somehow found its way through everyone including Wilcox as Swedish import Villiam Haag netted his 4th of the year, and it appeared that even though the Gophers put over 40 shots on net, they just wouldn’t be able to finish this one off.
A last gasp attempt in regulation by Kyle Rau went off the post after intercepting a pass and driving the net with about 30 seconds to play.
Both teams had some good zone possession time in OT but nothing would go, including a Connor Reilly drive to the net with less than ten seconds to play. The game will go into the official books as a tie, but the Spartans will gain an extra point in the Big Ten Conference standings after defeating the Gophers in their first ever official shootout in the Big Ten. State scored on their first attempt, and to be honest the Gophers looked fairly feeble – to put it kindly – in their attempts. Perhaps they’ll get better as the year goes on and quite honestly that extra point for Sparty won’t matter much between them by the end of the year anyway.
So….it’s an early start tomorrow, at 3PM because of the Big Ten Title game that the Spartans are participating in. Everyone make sure to start their night early, hopefully the Gophers can win their final game before the winter break.
Gophers Beat Bucky 4-3 for a Sweep
Ambroz scored two goals, and Minnesota opens Big Ten play with two wins
Minneapolis—The Gophers have leaned heavily on their freshman class early this season. The class came into Saturday night having scored 25 of the team’s 54 goals, but Saturday night against Wisconsin, juniors Seth Ambroz and Kyle Rau showed the older guys still got it.
Rau chipped in a goal, an assist, and won numerous key face-offs throughout the night. But it was Ambroz who scored two goals, including the game-winner with just 26 seconds remaining as top ranked Minnesota (11-2-1) swept Wisconsin (4-5-1) with a 4-3 win in front of 9,973 at Mariucci Arena.
“I thought Boyd’s line was really good all weekend long, and a big reason why we were able to get two wins,” said Don Lucia. “It was a much harder game tonight like we expected it to be, there wasn’t a lot of space--we had to fight for space on the ice.”
Lucia has a class of seven freshmen showing they have the ability to play at a high level. However, a group of veteran forwards, Tom Serratore, Travis Boyd, and Ambroz have shown the ability to fight for space when the game gets difficult. The game got difficult Saturday night as Wisconsin got on the board first when their defensemen Frank Simonelli got in transition, found some open space on an even man rush, and took advantage of it scoring 4:23 into the first period.
“You have to stay with games,” said Lucia. “You’re not always going to be in control when you play good teams, there are going to be periods where they’ve got you on your heels and then you have to be able to fight back for different segments of the game.”
Rau got the fight back goal for the Gophers, scoring his third of the season just 45 seconds later after the Simonelli goal. Rau found some space on the far side of the crease as Hudson Fasching had drawn both Badger defenders to him on the front side, leaving his line mate all alone back door.
“[Fasching] is a big body, he needs two guys on him,” said Rau. “I was just fortunate Warning saw me back door—I actually was in the wrong spot, I wasn’t supposed to be there, but it worked out.”
Wisconsin regained the lead at the end of the period when Nic Kerdiles completed a tic-tac-toe passing play past Wilcox at 14:39. Ambroz tied up the game again late in the second period for his sixth goal of the season at 17:51. Serratore won a puck behind the goal line and found Ambroz coming into the slot. It took two shots to get it past the goalie, but it was enough for Ambroz to get his sixth of the season.
Brady Skjei got his second goal of the season from a face-off play won by Rau to Justin Holl. Holl worked it to Skjei as he moved to the middle of the ice and the one-timer got through traffic cleanly 3:44 into the third period. Wisconsin evened the game up 10:37 into the third period when Michael Mersch muscled a Kerdiles pass into the net through traffic.
Lucia went with the Boyd line for a shift late in the game, as overtime loomed. The group of veterans were in hard on the forecheck, Boyd forced a turnover, threw the puck towards the net where a driving Ambroz was able to direct it past Badger goalie Joel Rumpel for the winner.
“My line mates played really well this weekend,” said Ambroz “I’ve just got to give a lot of credit to them, I was just been fortunate enough to put it in.”
The humble junior has been a bright spot for the maroon and gold this season. The team gained a lot of pace with their seven freshman and the 6’3” 215 lbs junior has made strides in his game to keep pace.
“I think Seth worked hard on his game this summer, his skating has improved and we’re playing him a lot of minutes, whether power play or penalty kill, but he’s just an honest hard working guy and he’s going to score some goals by getting around the net and the blue paint,” said Lucia. “He’s not pretty coming down the rink, but he’s heavy on pucks and he’s scored like we expected him to score this weekend.”
The Gophers finish their opening stretch of play next weekend at Michigan State for a Friday and Saturday series with start times of 6pm and 3pm.
Gophers Flatten Badgers 4-1
Ambroz Scores Twice to Pace Minnesota
Minneapolis – Two very different styles of hockey clashed as Minnesota played Wisconsin for the 268th time today at Mariucci Arena. Wisconsin plays their defensive, slow-it-down style of play, and is very good playing to their “systems”. In the past, this style has given Minnesota fits. This version of the Gophers, however, would not be slowed down by the Badger trap. Minnesota skated around Wisconsin en route to a 4-1 victory, getting first period goals by Mike Reilly and Seth Ambroz to put them ahead for good.
A 4:00 start time meant a scant crowd at Mariucci arena, but the Gophers didn’t seem to need the energy of a raucous home crowd to get going. Games between the Gophers and the Badgers in the recent past seem to have a very similar quality: the Gophers get the majority of the chances, but Wisconsin capitalizes on their limited chances to keep the game close. The same held true for much of the game tonight. Minnesota carried the play early on in the period, but Wisconsin struck first on just their second shot of the game. A bouncing puck fell right to Joe LaBate in the slot, and he put it past Gopher goalie Adam Wilcox before Wilcox knew what had happened. The goal, scored at 6:31, put the Badgers up 1-0.
Minnesota would strike back just under three minutes later on the powerplay, as Mike Reilly’s seeing-eye shot made it through a sea of bodies and into the net. The Gophers would tack on another one at 13:14, as Seth Ambroz banked the puck off Badger goalie Landon Peterson from behind the goal line. The Gophers went into the intermission ahead 2-1, a lead that they’d never look back from.
There would be no goals scored in the second period, but this is the period where the Gophers really pressed their advantage and controlled the game. Minnesota outshot Wisconsin 12-4 in the period, killing three Badger powerplays in the process. Adam Wilcox made several huge saves on the powerplay to keep the Gophers in the lead, and after two periods Minnesota still held a slim 2-1 lead.
This type of game is just what Wisconsin wants: they had been outshot and outchanced badly through two periods, but they have a chance to win in the third. The Gophers would not allow the Badgers to get back into it though. Connor Reilly scored on a three-on-two rush at 10:46 to put the Gophers up 3-1, and though Wisconsin had some quality chances down the stretch, Wilcox came up huge to hold the Badgers off the scoresheet. Seth Ambroz scored an empty netter as time wound down to give the Gophers a 4-1 lead, and that’s how the game would end.
The Gophers face the Badgers again tomorrow at 5:00 PM.
Notes & Quotes
Three Stars of the Game: 3) Adam Wilcox, 2) Mike Reilly, 1) Seth Ambroz
Final shots on goal: Gophers 45, Badgers 25
On the transition to the Big Ten: “It was important to us to get the first Big Ten win ever. We talked about it a lot in practice this week.”
On the powerplay, jokingly: “The three guys that ran the powerplay last year are all in the NHL now, and they all could’ve come back. I guarantee you that the powerplay would be better off with those guys in the lineup.”
On the “specialty teams”: “We were plus on the specialty teams tonight. That’s important.”
On the third line: “I thought they played extremely well today. They’re the line we wanted out there late in the third period. We have a very young team, so having a veteran line like that is important.”
On Taylor Cammarata: “He’s day-to-day. There’s no rush to bring him back before he’s at 100%.”
Lethargic Gophers Fall 6-2 to Bulldogs
Poor Special Teams Play Dooms Minnesota
Minneapolis - Minnesota may have been thinking back to Friday night’s 6-1 triumph when designing the game plan to Sunday afternoon’s contest. In Friday’s game, Minnesota-Duluth drew first blood, but the Gophers came back with six unanswered goals, paving the way to a 6-1 win.
The Gophers again let the Bulldogs score first in Sunday’s contest. After that, though, the two games could not have been more divergent. UMD scored three times in the first period and never looked back, handing Minnesota their second loss of the season by a 6-2 score.
The Gophers (9-2-1 Overall) got off to a good start in the first period, controlling the puck and peppering Duluth goalie Matt McNeely often in the early going. Minnesota would kill its own momentum, though, on an early powerplay. Brady Skjei went off for tripping at 4:43, but two quick Bulldog penalties later and the Gophers had a minute of 5x3 with just under seven minutes gone in the opening frame.
The powerplay, slogging along at just 14.3% coming into the game, came up empty once again. Actually, worse than empty. Dominic Toninato scored shorthanded at 7:47 to give the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead. After the penalties were killed off, UMD seized the momentum. A great offensive zone shift in which the Gophers simply could not clear the puck led to another Bulldog goal, this time from Tony Cameranesi. The even strength goal at 10:12 gave Duluth a two-goal lead.
Minnesota would take two penalties within three seconds of each other in the 15th minute of the period, giving the Bulldogs their own extended 5x3 chance. They’d only need seven seconds, though, to score another one. This time, Justin Crandall fired it past Adam Wilcox from beside the goal to give Duluth a 3-0 lead.
The Gophers would get two more powerplay chances before the period expired, but again came up empty handed. Although Minnesota outshot UMD 13-8 in the period, the Gophers entered the dressing room down by three goals after one.
Minnesota would start the second period with 1:24 of leftover powerplay time, but despite a few quality looks they again could not dent the twine. They’d finally get on the board at 11:18 of the second on a Mike Reilly snapshot from the point. The goal – on Minnesota’s sixth powerplay chance of the afternoon – came from Rau and Warning, and would draw the Gophers to within two at 3-1.
Duluth would capitalize on their next two powerplay chances, though, to extend the lead to 5-1, with Austin Farley and Kyle Osterberg had the PP goals for UMD in the second. Minnesota couldn’t muster much of anything else in the remainder of the period on offense, although they did get into a scuffle at the end of the second and Ben Marshall was ejected for facemasking.
UMD started the third with 1:48 of powerplay, and would strike gold again at 1:05 of the third. The early goal gave them a 6-1 lead. Minnesota would score on yet another powerplay (2-10 in the game) with 11:04 left to draw within four at 6-2. Michael Brodzinski netted his fourth of the year on a shot from the high slot, with assists to Connor Reilly and Christian Isackson.
That was all for the Gophers, though. The 6-2 final was the team’s second loss of the season. The Gophers will look to rebound against Wisconsin Friday night. The game will mark the start of the Big Ten season.
Notes & Quotes:
McNeely, Caleb Herbert and Justin Crandall were the three stars of the game.
Michael Shibrowski replaced Adam Wilcox in net after the Bulldogs' fifth goal
UMD Head Coach Scott Sandelin: “I really liked our kids’ response to [the Friday game]”, “[Goaltender McNeely’s] performance was huge, especially on the early 5-on-3”, “Our powerplay got going tonight.”
Don Lucia: “There were big flaws in the special teams play tonight”, “We weren’t disciplined, from all of the penalties all the way to not getting our sticks into lanes on the penalty kill.”
Travis Boyd: “Surprising to have such a lopsided weekend, normally games against [UMD] are tight”, “It was hard to get in a rhythm with so many penalties, lots of times guys wouldn’t play for long stretches of time because of the powerplays or penalty kills”, “I just don’t think we were mentally dialed in.” On what they took away from the game: “We need to bring it every night.”