Spartans Fall on Opening Night, 5-1
Oct. 12, 2012
Minneapolis, Minn. - A three-goal first period by the host Gophers was too large a hill to overcome, as the Michigan State hockey team dropped a 5-1 decision to No. 1/2 Minnesota in Minneapolis on Friday evening. Tanner Sorenson had the Spartan tally in the third period, and junior goalie Will Yanakeff made 37 saves in the loss.
"Make no mistake about it - that was a very good team we faced," said head coach Tom Anastos. "However, there are a lot of areas that we have to clearly improve. I think we saw some good things that we can build on, but we were inconsistent. We will have our hands full tomorrow, and a lot of work to do."
Minnesota's three-goal first period put the Spartans on their heels early. The home team took a 1-0 lead before the game was five minutes old. The Gophers were buzzing in their offensive zone, outshooting the Spartans 5-0 when Zach Budish moved the puck to the right point for Ben Marshall. His slapper snuck beneath Yanakeff's blocker hand and rung the inside of the left post.
The Spartans got a power play soon after, on which it generated a few chances - but as the penalty was due to expire, Kyle Rau fed Mike Reilly as he was coming out of the box, springing the freshman with Nick Bjugstad on a two-on-one rush. Bjugstad's first shot was saved by Yanakeff, but he deked around the defender and his second shot found its mark. Bjugstad set up the third Gopher tally at 13:38; streaking up the right side, he found Christian Isackson in the high slot. Isackson's shot beat a screened Yanakeff.
The second period was a much better one for the Spartans, who settled down defensively and had a couple of nice offensive spurts. Greg Wolfe had a nice chance down low at the 10-minute mark, but his shot was saved by Shibrowski's glove hand. Four minutes later, Matt Berry and Ryan Keller broke in on a 2-on-1, but Keller's shot skitted just wide.
At 17:46, the Gophers got their only score of the period as Erik Haula, skating right-to-left, came across the top of the crease and put a shot on net. Yanakeff made the point-blank save, but Haula was able to corral his own rebound and roofed the puck over Yanakeff's blocker-hand shoulder.
The Gophers took a 5-0 lead midway through the third period, while the Spartans were attempting to kill off a five-on-three. Down low, Yanakeff came up with two highligt-reel saves on Seth Ambroz on the doorstep, but was prone on the ice when Travis Boyd redirected the bouncing puck into the empty left side of the net.
The Spartans broke up the shutout at 15:59. David Bondra circled behind the net with the puck, and fed Tanner Sorenson at the right hash marks. Sorenson beat Shibrowski under the blocker, and gave Bondra his first collegiate point.
The Gophers outshot MSU 42-26 on the night, and went 1-2 on the power play. The Spartans were 0-for-3 with the man advantage, and the lone Gopher power-play score came on the 5-on-3.
The teams finish up the two-game set on Saturday at 9 p.m. eastern.
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