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Minnesota defeats Michigan State in series finale thanks to goaltending

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Minnesota and Michigan State met in the series finale at Mariucci Arena on Saturday night off Friday’s tie, and if Saturday was like Friday, there weren’t to be many penalties. Adam Wilcox got the cage for Minnesota while Jake Hildebrand got the start for Michigan State once again.

Matt Berry had the game’s first shot for Michigan State under a minute into the contest and it was clear that the game’s first goal would go a long way in determining a winner on a cold winter’s night. At 2:29, Minnesota’s Ryan Reilly would crack the game open with his goal that could only be described as “down and dirty when it needed to be,” or so he thought. Upon further review, it was determined that the puck never crossed the line, and the goal was thus waived off.

Shots were 4-2 in favor of Minnesota as 5:30 had elapsed, and on Minnesota’s seventh shot on goal (at 6:44), Minnesota’s Kyle Rau scored his seventh goal of the season. Help came from Mike Reilly and Hudson Fasching.
Shots were 8-2 to Minnesota through 11:00, and Michigan State had to play catch-up for the first time all weekend. If you remember, Friday’s game was one where Michigan State got out to the two-goal lead.

Both teams were blocking a lot of shots as the period came to an end. Shots on goal favored Minnesota 17-4.
The second period started with each team taking a shot within the first two minutes of play. The first major event of the period involved a penalty to Michigan State’s Tanner Sorenson for goaltender interference at 6:57.

The Gophers couldn’t capitalize on their man advantage, and despite putting up twenty-four shots to Michigan State’s six, the score was still 1-0 as the penalty ended. At the 11:51 mark, Minnesota’s Sam Warning would get cited for interference, giving the Spartans a power play.

At the 14:24 mark, Michigan State’s RJ Boyd would be called for holding at 14:24, giving the Gophers only their second power play of the night. Minnesota couldn’t get on the board despite numerous shot attempts on their man advantage. Minnesota’s Ryan Reilly would be called for a penalty at 17:19, getting a boarding call.
As forty minutes came and went, shots on goal favored Minnesota at 29-12.

Michigan State’s Thomas Ebbing would be called for hooking at 8:06 of the third period, but Minnesota could not do much with its power play. Amazingly, Minnesota still held a 1-0 lead deep into the third period. Shots were 37-18 as the period finished fourteen minutes, but, as proven Friday night in the shootout, one bounce could change everything.

The most important star of the game as sixty minutes came and went was Minnesota's goaltender, Adam Wilcox. Plain and simply, he manufactured a shutout that should not have been a shutout with saves he made.

At the end of the weekend, it was Minnesota who technically earned a tie and split for an undefeated weekend. A box score from Saturday is attached.

Minnesota travels to Madison for a series against Wisconsin on Thursday and Friday next week.

Geoff Discher is Examiner.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.com with comments, story ideas, or any general talk surrounding college hockey. You can find him on Facebook as well by clicking here as well as here and joining the conversation from the social media side as well. He's always chock full of fact and opinion. I’m also on Twitter @Disch_InTheVOX. Check it out!

Until next time, I'll see you at the rink!

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