MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota - A pair of first-period goals were enough to push No. 5 Minnesota past the Michigan State hockey team, 4-0, on Friday night at Mariucci Arena in Minneapolis. Defenseman Jake Sadek scored twice for the Gophers as they clinched the Big Ten regular-season title.
"I thought we struggled at times in our own end of the rink covering them defensively," MSU head coach Tom Anastos said. "I thought we gave up too many point shots, obviously."
Sadek's first goal came just seconds after the Spartans extinguished the first Gopher power play of the night. With the puck still in the MSU end, Sadek let a shot go from the right point that got through traffic and beat John Lethemon on the far side with 12:08 to go in the period.
Another Sadek shot, from nearly the same spot, got past Lethemon with 3:24 to play in the first to make it 2-0.
The Spartans (7-23-3, 3-14-2) created a handful of chances, including a pair off tipped pucks, and finished the first 20 minutes with same amount of shots as Minnesota -- eight.
Lethemon stopped all 14 Minnesota shots in a second period that did not see either team create many quality-scoring chances.
With the Spartans on their second power-play opportunity of the game with just over 12 minutes to play in the third, Lethemon made his best save of the night as he stoned Tyler Sheehy on a shorthanded breakaway.
"We couldn't get anything going on the power play when we had the opportunity and we just couldn't find the back of the net to get that first goal and get some momentum," Anastos said.
The Gophers (23-10-2, 14-5) eventually pushed their lead to 3-0 with 8:29 to play as Darian Romanko finished off a 2-on-1.
Defenseman Ryan Collins capped the scoring with a shot from the point with 48 seconds to play.
In his third straight start in goal, Lethemon made 24 saves for the Spartans. Minnesota's Eric Schierhorn also made 24 stops in recording a shutout.
MSU went 0-for-3 on the power play, while Minnesota went 0-for-2.
"That's a good team; I like how hard we competed," Anastos said. "We have to come back with a lot of energy and compete tomorrow night."
The two teams will meet again on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET in the Big Ten regular season finale.