Minnesota Falls Saturday to Split Series with No. 5 MSU

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MANKATO, Minn. – The No. 2-ranked Minnesota men’s hockey team fell on the road to No. 5 Minnesota State, 3-2, Saturday night at Mayo Clinic Health System Event Center.
 
Jimmy Snuggerud and Mason Nevers scored for the Golden Gophers, but the Mavericks posted two tallies in the final frame to snap a three-game win streak for the ‘U’ and capped the home-and-home series with a split.
 
The Gophers used a hard forecheck to quiet the capacity crowd for the opening minutes during MSU’s home opener. Aaron Huglen and Snuggerud had early chances to give Minnesota a lead as the game remained scoreless through the middle stages of the period. A pair of man advantages for the Mavericks were thwarted by the strong effort from Justen Close and the Maroon and Gold penalty killers.
 
As he did in last night’s victory, Snuggerud would not be held off the scoresheet for long as the freshman buried the opening goal at the 15:29 mark. He came streaking down his off wing and sniped his fourth goal of the year from the far-left hash putting the Gophers ahead, 1-0, late in the first frame.
 
Minnesota drew two quick penalties during the second stanza generating a 5-on-3 power play as the Mavericks were whistled for a five-minute major and a game misconduct 2:40 into the period. The visitors were able to create several quality chances only to be stopped as MSU killed both penalties and swung momentum in its favor. The home team pulled even with 5:24 to play in the second period as a seeing-eye shot from the point found the back of the net for a 1-1 tie at the end of two.
 
The Gophers found themselves down a player 74 seconds into the third frame, but again, were able to kill the penalty. The Mavericks continued to press and capitalized on a giveaway at Minnesota’s offensive blue line for a 2-1 edge at the 4:15 mark. The lead was short lived as Jaxon Nelson forced a turnover and the visitors put on a passing clinic with Ryan Johnson and Charlie Strobel finding the open Nevers for the tying goal 59 seconds later.
 
The intensity on the ice increased as both sides fought for every inch of space and Minnesota had to come up with another penalty kill, its fourth of the contest, to stay even. MSU found the go-ahead tally with 5:58 left in regulation controlling a loose puck along the boards and got off a shot from the top of the circle. The Gophers buzzed all around the net in the closing minutes and were unable to find the equalizer, dropping their first contest of the year, 3-2.
 
Close (2-1-0) ended the night making a season-high 30 saves as Minnesota was out-shot for the first time this year by a 33-27 margin.
 
Noteworthy
After a hat trick Friday, Snuggered continued by scoring for the second-straight outing … Strobel picked up his first collegiate point with the assist on Nevers’ goal, while Johnson’s helper on the play was his team-leading fifth of the season … It was the first time this year the Minnesota power play was held scoreless, going 0-for-3 despite 10 shots on goal.
 
Coach Motzko’s Comments
“We were okay tonight,” Minnesota head coach Bob Motzko said. “Okay isn’t going to cut it in a game like this.”
 
Next Up: Home vs. North Dakota (Oct. 21)
After taking a week off from competition, Minnesota returns to the ice of 3M Arena at Mariucci with another powerhouse matchup hosting the Fighting Hawks of North Dakota for a two-game series Oct. 21-22. Limited tickets still remain with more information available HERE.


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