Observations from Minnesota's 4-4 tie with Michigan State

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Mariucci-Bessone Notes
The Minnesota-Michigan State rivalry, which pitted former WCHA and future Big Ten Conference foes against each other, saw the two schools play a two-game series for the first time since Feb. 7 and 8, 1981. Coming in as the No. 3 team in the country playing against the nation's 20th-ranked team, the Gophers' loss and tie gave the higher-ranked team an 0-3-3 record in the last six meetings between the schools. The draw did help UM avoid being swept against the Spartans for the first time since Feb. 6 and 7, 1976 and also helped them steer clear of being swept by a non-conference opponent for the first time since Oct.16 and 17, 1999. The Gophers and Spartans will meet again in non-conference play next year before they both join the Big Ten in 2013-14. After beating Minnesota 5-2 last year, MSU maintained the actual Mariucci-Bessone hardware with a three-point weekend.

The Last Stanza
Michigan State beat the Gophers 2-1 in the third period on Friday and won the game 4-3, handing the Gophers their first loss of the season in which they entered the third period tied or in the lead. Prior to this weekend, Minnesota had outscored its opponents 24-4 in the final frame. On Saturday, the Gophers flipped the third-period score and outscored MSU 2-1 in the final frame to force a tie, which kept UM unbeaten in Saturday games with a 6-0-1 record.

Bonus Hockey
Minnesota had almost no luck in overtime last year, finishing with a 1-1-6 record last season, but have won (at Minnesota-Duluth) and tied their two OT games in 2011-12. Saturday's game marked the sixth game in the last 12 meetings between Minnesota and MSU that went past regulation. All of those games ended in ties.

Lineup Changes
After going over a month (nine games) with the same 12 forwards in the lineup, Minnesota took out freshmen Sam Warning and Seth Ambroz and inserted fellow rookie Christian Isackson and senior Nico Sacchetti. Sacchetti made himself stand out by making several great defensive plays including multiple blocked shots and a great diving effort to break up a first-period two-on-one chance for MSU and Isackson drew a penalty with 31.7 seconds left in regulation. Though both of them have played well so far this year, neither player has a point in seven combined games played.

Bjugstad on the Board
His four-game goal-scoring streak came to a close on Saturday, but Nick Bjugstad did record two assists on Saturday to move his point streak to five games. The towering center posted an assist on Erik Haula's power-play tally in the second period and picked up another helper on Kyle Rau's go-head goal in the third. He now has a nation-leading 25 points (15g-10a) on the year and is tied for the national lead in goals with 15. Bjugstad has scored 20 goals in his last 22 games overall dating back to 2010-11.

Home Sweet Home
Saturday night's game ended a month-long stretch in which seven of the Gophers' 10 games were away from Mariucci Arena. Minnesota will not play on the road again until Jan 13 and 14 at North Dakota after a seven-game homestand. After that, UM will only make road trips for series against Nebraska-Omaha and Denver and will play a home-and-home with St. Cloud.

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