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Gophers men’s hockey gets off to a late start to win 6-3 at Michigan State

Gophers men’s hockey gets off to a late start to win 6-3 at Michigan State


Bob Motzko expected a much stronger effort from Michigan State on Saturday after his Gophers men’s hockey team embarrassed the Spartans with an eight-goal romp Friday night. And the visitors responded briskly and forcefully, dominating territorially in the first period and leading twice by one goal in the second.

However, the Gophers shook off the early cobwebs from the 4pm start. They turned it on late in the second period, conceding goals from freshman Garrett Pinoniemi and senior Bryce Brodzinski to erase a lead en route to a 6-3 win in front of a sellout crowd of 10,253 at the 3M Arena in Mariucci. Jimmy Snuggerud scored two goals and assisted on one, and Matthew Knies and Ryan Chesley each had a goal and an assist as Minnesota (20-7-1, 14-3-1 Big Ten) completed the Spartans’ sweep (13-13 -2, 7-9-2).

“Our guys had it in them [team] app that that game started at 5 p.m. tonight,” Motzko joked about the slow start before adding, “Michigan State came to play.”

While the dominance wasn’t as complete as Friday’s effort, the second-ranked Gophers added three more points to their lead in the Big Ten standings. With 43 points, they are 16 ahead of second-place Penn State, which lost 5–4 at Michigan, and Ohio State, which was inactive.

“They’re the best team in our league for a reason, and that’s the best we’ve played against them,” said Spartans coach Adam Nightingale.

Justen Close made 12 of his 26 saves in the first period, giving the Gophers a foothold in the second period, as they scored three goals and overcame deficits of 1-0 and 2-1.

Karsen Dowart’s power play goal at 2 minutes and 35 seconds put Michigan State up 1–0, but Snuggerud shot past goaltender Dylan St. Cyr at 3:40 to tie the score.

After the Spartans regained the lead on Daniel Russell’s goal after a two-for-one break, Knies tied the score almost midway through the second inning when he fired into a gaping net. However, St. Cyr reached back at the last minute to save a spectacular gauntlet. On video review, the call stood, much to the protest of the crowd.

“[Officials] said it was three quarters of the way [over the goal line],” Motzko said. “It must be all over.”

Undeterred, the Gophers made it 2–2 at 13:31 when Pinoniemi scored his second goal in as many games by jabbing in a rebound from a Cooley quick shot. The cage came off the left post, but the referees ruled the goal correct after video review.

“I saw he had a step on the ‘D’ and I knew he was going to take it to the net,” said Pinoniemi. “So I just stayed around the net and it just came to mind.”

The Gophers took a 3-2 lead at 3:28 when Ryan Johnson’s stretch pass sent Brodzinski in for a backhander over St. Cyr.

“We kept reacting,” Motzko said. “It wasn’t our ‘A’ game, but we got better as the game progressed.”

The Gophers added goals from Chesley, Knies and Snuggerud in the third.

“This is it. We are now in the run-up to the playoffs,” said Motzko, whose team is inactive this weekend. [the break] to our advantage. Then it’s time to go.”

Remark: Gophers defenseman Mike Koster didn’t play in the third inning after a blindside hit by Russell that drew a five-minute major and a misspelling late in the second inning. Motzko had no update on Koster’s status.




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