Spartans Come Up Short at No. 1 Minnesota, 1-0
Feb. 2, 2014
MINNEAPOLIS - Timely saves by goaltender Adam Wilcox and a first-period goal by Kyle Rau were enough to help Minnesota fend off an upset-minded Michigan State hockey team as the top-ranked Gophers downed the Spartans, 1-0, on Saturday night at Mariucci Arena.
Minnesota improved to 19-2-5 overall and 8-0-2-0 in the conference. MSU is now 8-13-4 overall and 2-5-3-3 in the Big Ten.
The Gophers jumped on the Spartans from the outset, generating 17 shots on goal in the first period. However as the game progressed, the Spartans created more and more quality chances, but were unable to beat Wilcox.
"We anticipated we would have to weather the storm early," said MSU head coach Tom Anastos. "They are a very good team and came at us hard. We came out of that first period thinking we were a shot away from tying the game."
Minnesota appeared to get the first goal of the game at the 2:29 mark after a scrum in front of the Spartan crease. The puck got past MSU goaltender Jake Hildebrand, but before it could fully cross the goal line, Brent Darnell cleared it away. Originally ruled a goal on the ice, the play was overturned after video review.
Minnesota kept the pressure on and took a 1-0 lead at the 6:44 mark. Following a shot from the point and a flurry in front of the net, Rau backhanded a rebound past Hildebrand from the left side of the crease.
Both teams got a pair of power-play attempts in the second period, but Hildebrand and Wilcox made saves when called upon. Five of the eight Spartan shots in the period came on their two power-play opportunities.
Despite the disparity in shots on goal - 38-19 in favor or Minnesota for the game - Michigan State continued to gain quality opportunities.
"I thought we did a good job adjusting to the game after the first period," said MSU senior forward Greg Wolfe. "The third period was back-and-forth hockey with both teams getting chances."
Dean Chelios had the first opportunity of the third period - a rebound chance from the low slot just over a minute into the frame, but Wilcox tracked the puck late and kicked it away.
Mike Ferrantino followed minutes later with a heavy snap shot off the left side, just beneath the top of the circle, that didn't miss by much.
Hildebrand responded with a great save of his own at the other end, snaring Justin Kloos' shot that came off a 2-on-1 to keep it a one-goal game.
With Hildebrand on the bench, the final Spartan chance came in the waning seconds of the third when the puck drifted out front to the stick of Matt Berry. Berry fired a shot from the right side that bounced off the side of the net just before the horn sounded.
Hildebrand finished with 37 saves for MSU, while Wilcox made 19 in his shutout effort.
Michigan State will be back in action at home next weekend when it welcomes Ohio State. The teams will meet at 6:30 p.m. on Friday and at 4 p.m. on Saturday at Munn Ice Arena.
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