Gophers’ five-goal rally sweeps Michigan State – Twin Cities
EAST LANSING, Michigan – It took a furious comeback on the road, but maybe the Minnesota Gophers’ inconsistency issues were gone when the schedule moved to 2022.
Led by a pair with just over a period to go, the Gophers made a determined comeback, scoring five unanswered goals and winning Michigan State 6-3 on Saturday for their first sweep since late October.
Despite the deficit on the scoreboard early on, the Gophers’ offense was relentless, putting a season-high 60 shots on Spartans goaltender Pierce Charleson in the win. The Spartans had 2-0, 3-1 leads that melted away, as the Gophers scored four times in five minutes at the end of the second period and the start of the third.
âWe saw it coming, and we kind of knew it could happen,â Gophers coach Bob Motzko said of the offensive contributions from the four lines. “It’s still early in the second half and we continue to build confidence in our roster.”
For the second night in a row, the Gophers scored two goals from Ben Meyers, who has now scored nine times in 11 career games against the Spartans.
The victory shattered a five-game winning streak the Gophers had parted with. Equally important, the six conference points they earned this weekend put them in first place in the Big Ten. They are 12-8-0 overall and 8-4-0 in the conference with a non-conference home streak against Alaska next weekend.
The Spartans (11-10-1, 5-7-0) secured the opener when Gophers goaltender Jack LaFontaine got caught behind the net trying to play the puck, allowing Erik Middendorf to score what was essentially a goal in an empty net. In Michigan State’s first power play of the night, they doubled their lead just 11 seconds after Gophers defenseman Matt Staudacher made it to the penalty box, scoring a rebound for a two-goal lead.
The Gophers’ special teams finally responded late in the first period when Chaz Lucius scored his second goal of the weekend after a cross pass from Matthew Knies that Perbix deflected.
“It was a good test for us,” said Knies, who collected two assists in the win. âThat kind of just shows the resilience of our group. We fought hard, we fought every 60 minutes, we played
a full match and that was also from every row.
The offensive assault intensified in the second period, and the Gophers still found themselves down 3-1 until less than two minutes remained in the middle frame. They fell back to less than a goal when Meyers reversed a Knies shot in front of Charleson. Seconds later, the Gophers paused when a shot from Rhett Pitlick passed the Spartans net, hit Aaron Huglen’s skate, then bounced off a Michigan State player and into the net for a 3-3 draw after 40 minutes.
âWe started playing as a team early in the second half and we just knew something was going to trigger,â said Perbix. “We didn’t score right away in the second but as the half went on we had more and more chances and we knew one of them would come in. . ”