Created: 02/01/2014 12:04 AM KSTP.com
Courtesy: Gophers Sports Information
The top-ranked Minnesota men’s hockey team extended the nation’s longest unbeaten streak to 13 games on Friday night at Mariucci Arena, recording a 2-2 tie against Michigan State before losing to the Spartans in a shootout. Minnesota, now 18-2-5 and 7-0-2-0 in league play, overcame an early 2-0 deficit, but for the second time in three games against the Spartans this season, was unable to take the extra point by winning the shootout.
The game started with Minnesota dominating the puck in the game’s opening minutes, but Michigan State generated the best scoring opportunities during an early power play and built on that momentum to produce the game’s first goal at 10:40 of the first period.
After several Gophers collided in the corner to Gopher netminder Adam Wilcox’s right side, Matt Berry escaped with the puck and found Mike Ferrantino on the far post to bang home the goal. Just 94 seconds later, the same corner provided more good fortune for Michigan State. Villiam Haag gathered the puck in that corner and skated out to the faceoff dot, where he fired a strong wrist shot past Wilcox to put the Spartans ahead 2-0.
Seemingly sparked by the sudden two-goal deficit, Minnesota produced some of its highest quality chances to that point, including prime scoring opportunities for Vinni Lettieri off a nice feed from Mike Reilly and for Kyle Rau in front of the Spartan net, but neither led to a goal.
With Minnesota looking to cut into the Michigan State lead late in the period, Ferrantino was sent off for roughing and the Gophers made the most of the opportunity. Travis Boyd got a clean look from the top of the left circle, a shot which Hildebrand was able to fight off, but Hudson Fasching stood ready in front of the net and buried the rebound, cutting the Michigan State lead to 2-1 at 19:04 of the period.
The goal continued the Gophers recent hot streak on the power play, a unit which has now produced goals in 13 of the last 15 games. For Fasching, it was his third straight game with a power-play goal.
MSU almost regained its two-goal lead in the second when a point-blank Greg Wolfe opportunity was thwarted by a sprawling Wilcox and Minnesota nearly knotted the score when a Justin Kloos one-timer on the power play found iron, but the middle stanza yielded no goals.
Much like the beginning of the first period, the Gophers had the better of puck possession to begin the third but, unlike the opening period, this pressure resulted in a goal. Brady Skjei snapped a wrist shot from the right point that deflected off the skate of Kloos through Hildebrand’s legs, trying the game at the 5:27 mark. Kloos’ goal was the second on the night for a Gopher freshman, giving Minnesota’s rookie class 36 goals on the season, tied with Boston College for the most in the NCAA.
Minnesota generated several additional opportunities as it pressed for the go-ahead goal, including a frenetic final two minutes during which the Gophers pinned Michigan State deep its own end and created several good looks at the net. Despite these efforts, the game remained tied at two and headed to overtime.
The final minute of the overtime produced near-misses for both teams. Kloos found Nate Condon on the backdoor but Condon was unable to connect on a solid shot. Michigan State then transitioned quickly into the offensive zone, where Haag redirected a pass from Berry that forced Wilcox to flash his right pad to make a crucial save to preserve the tie and send the game to a shootout.
It would take 12 combined shooters to settle the shootout, with each goalie stopping the first four shots he faced. Matt Berry started the scoring with a goal to begin the fifth round, a goal matched by Taylor Cammarata to push the festivities to a sixth round. In what would prove to be the final shots of the game, JT Stenglein beat Adam Wilcox before Jake Hildebrand made a left pad stop on Sam Warning to clinch the shootout for Michigan State.
The two teams will tangle again tomorrow night at Mariucci Arena. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. CT.