Minnesota entered the weekend with a split home and home series, and Friday night was the home portion with the Gophers hosting Minnesota State’s Mavericks in Minneapolis. Adam Wilcox received the start in net for Minnesota while Stephon Williams got the start for Minnesota State.
After thirty seconds, Minnesota had the first shot on goal and coincidental minors were called against Minnesota’s Nick Bjugstad and Minnesota State’s Matt Leitner for roughing.
Shots on goal through three minutes had Minnesota State at 3-1 with three different Mavericks taking shots. The teams could not get substantial control in their respective offensive zones, and it felt similar to how a knockout punch ends a boxing match.
The game would settle down to a solid pace as the second set of five minutes ticked away, and shots were 5-2 in Minnesota State’s favor at the 5:38 mark.
As the game got to its ten minute mark, each team was on par with the other and though there were two penalties that were called, none of them resulted in a power play for either team. Shots were 8-4 in favor of the Mavericks, but the game lacked that flow that it gained in the first minute.
Shots were 11-5 Minnesota State at the 13:00 mark of the game, but there still were no goals to talk about. Each team was holding the other to “B” chances. As the first period drew to its conclusion, neither team could find a way to beat the other’s goaltender. Neither team had a power play through twenty minutes, while shots were 12-7 favoring Minnesota State.
The first true penalty of the game came at 0:39 of the second period, as Minnesota’s Nick Bjugstad went for interference. The first Minnesota State power play of the game wasn’t really that impressive, but also, Minnesota was looking to get back on the ice in full song. They did just that without allowing a shot on goal in their disadvantage.
Shots were 15-9 in favor of the Mavericks at the 26:06 mark of the game, yet there really wasn’t much else to talk about. The game lacked flow, and it felt more like a game of Pong…that was, until the 7:48 mark of the second period, when Minnesota’s Nate Schmidt lit the lamp on even strength. Schmidt was assisted by Nate Condon and Tom Serratore. Shortly thereafter, at 9:13, Minnesota received its first power play off an Eriah Hayes elbowing penalty.
At 12:11, Minnesota’s Mark Alt was more physical than usual on an innocent stoppage, but Minnesota State’s Chase Grant was also in the fray, so they were both called for roughing. The second period would reach into its final stretch with the completion of the penalties, but shots after the penalties were 20-14 in favor of Minnesota State. The game was picking up speed in the latter stages of the second period, which is something the first period simply did not have.
Minnesota’s Seth Ambroz would draw a checking from behind penalty of the two-minute variety at the 15:02 mark, giving Minnesota State a power play, but the Mavericks, who held a 22-14 advantage in shots would finally tie the game with it at the 16:42 mark. Johnny McInnis and Chase Grant (Leitner’s line mates) were credited with assists.
As the second period fell, the game was tied and shots were owned by Minnesota State 24-18. Minnesota State was 1-3 on completed power plays while Minnesota was 0-1. Late in the period, Minnesota State’s Matt Leitner was called for a trip, at 19:51.
The third period started with the Mavericks killing off a 1:51 stretch of a tripping penalty, and Minnesota couldn’t find a shot that produced success with the one-man advantage.
Shots were 27-18 to Minnesota State at the forty-five minute mark of the game, and both teams were fighting hard for a breakthrough goal which hadn't come yet. At the 6:54 mark of the third period, Minnesota's Justin Holl would test Stephon Williams with a shot on goal that was easily snared by the net minder.
With as much time as Minnesota was spending in its offensive end, the Gophers sure weren't being creative with their shot selection as time ran down near twelve minutes to play.
Shots were 29-26 to Minnesota State with 6:41 left to play in the third period, and neither team was really getting creative with shot making similar to how the Gophs were a few minutes earlier. It seemed like a mistake on the defensive side would determine the winner, and it actually was a mistake by both teams that sent Minnesota's Kyle Rau and Minnesota State's Josh Nelson to the box at 16:38 for diving and holding respectively.
The four on four time which the game had as a result didn't break the tie, and either team had eighty-two seconds to do so in regulation. Minnesota State would score at 19:16 as Brett Knowles pocketed one on even strength. Minnesota's Adam Wilcox would leave the game, but it wouldn't matter.Shots at the end finished 38-33 to Minnesota, while power plays had Minnesota State at 1-3 and Minnesota at 0-2.
Minnesota and Minnesota State battle in Mankato tomorrow night at 7pm. FOX Sports North Plus has the game.
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 @GophHkyExmnr. Check it out!
Until next time, I'll see you at the rink!