Minnesota and Minnesota State kicked off their annual series tonight in Minneapolis, and the battle was between two teams who had differing mindsets. Minnesota State was on the bottom looking up, while all Minnesota could do was look down. Kent Patterson started in the nets for Minnesota while Austin Lee took the cage for the Mavericks.
The first shot of the game went to Minnesota State and JP Burkemper, but the first minute was used for each team to figure its opponent out. Play was focused in the perimeter of the rink in the early going. Minnesota would score the game’s opening goal at 1:38 as Taylor Matson cracked the twine. Matson was assisted by Nate Condon and Seth Helgeson on the even strength goal. The first penalty of the game came fifty seconds later at 2:28 as Minnesota State’s Eriah Hayes would get sent to hockey prison for hooking. Minnesota’s power play would get its opening chance of the game with a good few chances, but Kent Patterson would have to make a stop on a MSU shorthanded attempt at about 3:30 into the game. The power play for Minnesota was stifled and the game resumed at full strength at the five minute mark. Shots through 5:22 favored Minnesota 4-3. Minnesota State seemed the busiest when trying to clear the puck from their defensive end, but the first seven plus minutes weren’t without entertainment on both sides. At 8:04, Minnesota State tied the game on a ripper from Evan Mosey. Mosey was assisted by Josh Nelson on the even strength goal. At 8:39, Minnesota’s Justin Holl entered hockey prison for hooking, and Holl’s hook was the second hook combined of the night. Minnesota State’s power play would be like the shark from Jaws when it came to looking for a shot. The Mavs weren’t going to throw each and every puck on net that came their way. Minnesota’s penalty kill seemed to come late to the party, but once the Gophers arrived, Minnesota State could hardly get a shot on net. At the end of the man-up, shots favored MSU 8-5 oddly enough. As the opening twenty wore on, Minnesota State took a commanding 10-5 shot lead at 13:00, but the game was tied where it counted. At 13:04, Minnesota State’s Zach Lehrke was assessed a two-minute boarding minor, and Minnesota looked to take advantage on the man-up. The Gophers had one legitimate shot from the slot late in the man advantage but were unable to beat Austin Lee even with that chance. Shots at 15:31 favored Minnesota State 11-10, but the period seemed far from over scoring wise. Down the stretch, each team would get a fair share of chances, but at 18:00, shots favored Minnesota 12-11 officially. Late in the period at 19:15, Minnesota’s Zach Budish would give Minnesota State a power play when he was called for a two-minute textbook tripping minor. Minnesota State would end the period on the advantage, and power plays through twenty minutes had each team at 0-2 if you count the Budish penalty. Shots were deadlocked at 12.
Minnesota State opened the second twenty minute stanza on a power play leftover from the Budish tripping penalty and almost cashed in the first thirty ticks of the second. The man advantage came to an end without a Maverick goal keeping the deadlock on the scoreboard intact. Shots in the opening two minutes favored Minnesota State 3-0, and Minnesota seemed back on its heels defensively in the early minutes. The end to end play quickly resumed, which is what makes the Mavericks-Gophers series so fun to watch. Both teams were looking for the advantage, and Minnesota scored that goal at 3:38 when Nick Larson lit the lamp on even strength with assists from Ben Marshall and Travis Boyd. The Gophers would draw a penalty at 4:49 when Zach Budish went in the sin bin for boarding. The Minnesota State power play couldn’t lift the Mavericks off the mat, and the score remained to the advantage of the home team. Shots on the period after the power play concluded favored Minnesota State 5-3, but the Gophers kept their lead with defense playing a starring role. At 8:52, Minnesota’s Sam Warning committed an absolutely insane and manic tripping penalty giving Minnesota State their fourth power play of the night. Minnesota State would score on their man advantage at 9:28 when Jean-Paul Lafontaine scored on a drive to the net. Lafontaine was assisted by Zach Lehrke and Zach Palmquist. The goal was reviewed for a few moments, but stood when the replay was all set and done. At 11:14, coincidental penalties for roughing were called on Minnesota State’s JP Burkemper and Minnesota’s Kyle Rau while the Mavericks were assessed an additional penalty for roughing to Eriah Hayes. Minnesota would get a power play out of the fracas, and Minnesota State’s penalty kill would get the early advantage in terms of ice position. The final ten seconds would go without a Minnesota power play mark, and even strength hockey resumed at 13:14. Shots on the game through thirty-five minutes favored Minnesota State 23-16 (11-4 MSU in the period). Minnesota would get one more shot opportunity in the final five minutes, but shots favored Minnesota State 23-17 through forty minutes. That means the Mavericks outshot the Gophers 11-5 in the second stanza. At 19:59, Minnesota’s Seth Ambroz committed a stupid cross checking minor, giving Minnesota State a 1:59.7 second power play in the third period. Shots may have been 23-17 to Minnesota State, but the Mavericks were 1-5 on the power play to Minnesota’s 0-3.
The third period started just as even as the game started—only with two goals a side. Minnesota State’s 1:59.7 second power play had a great chance with an odd-man rush in the opening minute which was pushed just wide of paydirt. The rest of the Mavericks power play went up in smoke and the five on five play resumed. The first four minutes of play in the third netted two Minnesota shots, and the first penalty of the final period came when Minnesota State’s Matt Leitner was assessed a tripping penalty at 4:22. Minnesota’s power play responded at 4:51 when Erik Haula sent a laser to the net with assists from Nate Schmidt and Nick Bjugstad. That was all of twenty-nine seconds elapsed, and the Minnesota student section sure was happy that the officiating crew was calling things their way to start the third period. At forty-seven minutes overall, shots favored Minnesota State 24-21 and Minnesota was leading MSU 4-1 in the third period. Contrary to popular belief, Minnesota State’s careful puck possession was keeping them in the game at 8:40, and to only be down a goal with a full lifespan remaining in the game was a good place to be. Shots at 10:47 favored Minnesota State 26-25, but the game pace was as feverish as it had been up to that point. At 11:39, Minnesota State’s Tyler Elbrecht would go to the sin bin for a textbook “blind man could make that call” tripping penalty. Minnesota’s power play looked to take advantage on its man-up and was looking for chances in close to do so. Minnesota couldn’t take advantage with its man up, and five a side hockey resumed with six minutes to go. As we entered the final stretch, Minnesota State looked feverishly for a chance to score though Minnesota was unrelenting in nature. Speaking of unrelenting, Minnesota added an empty net mark at 19:23 as Jake Hansen scored his sixth goal of the season on an assist from Zach Budish. Each team was 1-5 at the end of the game on power plays and Minnesota outshot Minnesota State 29-28 in the victory.
Minnesota State and Minnesota meet in the 7pm finale of the series on Saturday with the game broadcast on Fox Sports North.
Geoff Discher is lodeplus.com’s Minnesota Golden Gophers Hockey Examiner as well as the National College Hockey Examiner. Leave a comment below, or feel free to reach him at Disch61@hotmail.comwith comments, story ideas, or any general talk surrounding college hockey. You can find him on Facebook as well by clicking hereas well as hereand joining the conversation from the social media side as well. He’s always chock full of fact and opinion. I’m also on Twitter @GophHkyExmnr. Check it out!
Until next time, I’ll see you at the rink!