Wilcox, Gophers Top Spartans 1-0
Feb. 1, 2014
MINNEAPOLIS - The top-ranked Minnesota men's hockey team extended its NCAA-best unbeaten streak to 14 games with a 1-0 triumph over Michigan State Saturday night at Mariucci Arena. Gopher netminder Adam Wilcox pitched his third shutout of the season and sixth of his career to earn the win.
With the victory, Minnesota is now 19-2-5 on the season with an 8-0-2-0 mark in the Big Ten. The Gophers have a nine-point first-place lead over Michigan in the conference standings.
Michigan State came out of the gates flying Friday, but Minnesota brought the offensive pressure in the early going in the weekend finale.
Just 2:29 into the contest, sophomore Ryan Reilly looked to have given the Maroon and Gold a lead when the official signaled for a goal after he swatted at the puck with in a scrum in front of the net, but the call was overturned upon review as MSU forward Brent Darnell swept the puck away before it cross the goal line.
The Gophers continued to generate chances after Reilly's near miss until the 6:44 mark when Mike Reilly launched a shot on target that was stopped by Spartan goaltender Jake Hildebrand. The rebound attempt by Minnesota captain Kyle Rau deflected off Hildebrand's pad and into the air before landing in the cage.
Rau's tally was his seventh of the season and he scored the game's first goal for the fourth time in 2013-14, a team-high.
Hildebrand continued to keep MSU in the game, despite a heavy 17-4 shot advantage for the Gophers in the opening frame.
In the second period, Travis Boyd nearly converted on a shorthanded two-on-one rush with Rau and the duo nearly scored on a power-play later in the frame when Rau deflected a Boyd effort off the iron.
With the score still at 1-0 entering the third period, the Gopher defense continued to stymie the Michigan State attach, blocking six of the Spartan's 16 shot attempts and conceding just seven shots and allowing just one from the slot area.
A Justin Kloos breakaway six minutes into the period that was denied by the glove of Hildebrand proved to be the best scoring chance in the final 20 minutes and Minnesota hung on for its 12th home win of the year.
Rau's goal proved to be his fourth game-winner of the season, tying him for fifth in the country in that category.
Next on the docket for the Gophers is a trip to ninth-ranked Wisconsin next weekend. Minnesota will return home the following week for its first-ever Big Ten conference series against No. 12 Michigan.