Spartans Fall at No. 5 Minnesota in Big Ten Opener
Spartans come up short in conference opener.
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - The Michigan State hockey team dropped its Big Ten opener on the road at No. 5 Minnesota, 3-1, on Friday night at 3M Arena at Mariucci Arena. Sam Saliba scored for the Spartans, who are now 4-3 overall.
"I thought the guys did a darn good job. I thought they battled really well. They handled a lot of different situations and when guys go out there and do what you ask them to and work as hard as you want them to, sometimes things go your way and sometimes they don't," said MSU head coach Danton Cole. "We had a lot of really, really good chances and their goalie did a good job."
Though the Spartans outshot Minnesota, 8-7, in the opening period and created a handful of dangerous scoring chances off odd-man rushes, it was Minnesota (6-3, 2-1 Big Ten) that grabbed a 1-0 lead 3:22 into the game on a deflection by Ryan Lindgren. Jack Sadek let a pass go from the top of the zone that deflected off a Lindgren's stick while driving to the net.
MSU's quality scoring opportunities carried into the second period. With the puck behind Minnesota goaltender Eric Schierhorn, Logan Lambdin just missed from the low slot early on. Later, during the Spartans' first power play of the game, Mitchell Lewandowski had a pair of looks, including a tip from the slot that Schierhorn gloved.
MSU goaltender John Lethemon made several key stops in the second, including stoning Casey Mittelstadt on a 2-on-1 just past the midway point of the second period.
Unfortunately for the Spartans, the Gophers were able to capitalize on a power play late in the second to bump their lead to 2-0 as another deflection, this time from Brent Gates, found its way into the net with 50 seconds left in the period.
Michigan State eventually broke through early in the third to make it a one-goal game. Following a power play, the Spartans were able to keep pressure in the Minnesota end and Saliba got his stick on a loose puck in the low slot and slipped it past Schierhorn at the 2:18 mark.
Lambdin and David Keefer picked up assists on the MSU goal, which was Saliba's fourth of the season.
Minnesota got the goal back to make it 3-1 at the 5:50 mark of the third period as Rem Pitlick was the beneficiary of a turnover in the MSU zone.
The Golden Gophers finished with a slim 27-26 advantage in shots on goal.
The two teams will meet again on Saturday at 5 p.m. ET.