Nov. 26, 2011
Final Stats l Video Highlights l Postgame Audio Interviews
Instant Analysis l Live Blog Recap l Updated Season Stats
After a third-period rally fell short in a 4-3 loss on Friday, the No. 3 Minnesota men’s hockey team finished a two-goal comeback on Saturday and walked away with a 4-4 tie against 20th-ranked Michigan State at Munn Ice Arena in East Lansing, Mich. The Gophers received goals from four different players, all of whom were freshmen or sophomores.
As was the case in the series opener, the Spartans jumped out to an early lead. After driving into the UM zone on a counter-attack, MSU’s Mike Merrifield hit defenseman Brock Shelgren with a centering pass that Shelgren tipped in past Minnesota netminder Kent Patterson.
The first period ended with the Spartans in the lead, but the Gophers wasted little time tying the score in the second.
Freshman Ben Marshall held a puck in at the point and walked in before snapping a shot over the left shoulder of Spartan goaltender Drew Palmisano to tie the score.
Michigan State took another lead just past the midway point in regulation and would tack on another goal soon after.
With 9:21 left in the middle frame, MSU forward Greg Wolfe accepted a pass from Lee Reimer and dished a backdoor feed to Merrifield, who slid a backhander home after cutting across the crease to get by Patterson.
The Spartans continued to apply pressure on the forecheck and capitalized at the end of a long shift for the Gophers just under four minutes later. A Matt Crandell wrist shot from the blueline made its way through six bodies before ending up in the back of the net to make it 3-1 Michigan State.
The Gophers began to claw their way back into the game when sophomore Erik Haula collected a stray power-play shot by Nick Bjugstad and scored his first goal since Oct. 28.
With an assist on the play, Bjugstad took the NCAA Division I lead in points with his 24th of the season. The sophomore center would add a second assist for point No. 25 later. Defenseman Nate Schmidt, who set Bjugstad up in the left circle and also recorded a helper on the goal, moved into a tie for second in the nation in assists with his 16th in as many games.
Minnesota proceeded to tie the score in the third period almost immediately after a MSU penalty ended.
Two seconds after Spartan defenseman Tim Buttery left the penalty box, Gopher captain Taylor Matson put in a workmanlike effort to get the puck in front on a wraparound try. After Matson was thwarted by Palmisano, redshirt sophomore Zach Budish roofed a rebound attempt over the Michigan State goalie to knot the score.
Rookie forward Kyle Rau gave Minnesota its first lead of the weekend 2:33 later by whacking home a Budish rebound on the rush.
The lead was short-lived, however, as MSU’s Daultan Leveille converted on a partial breakaway less than two minutes after Rau’s strike.
Playing in his third game of the season, UM freshman Christian Isackson drew a late penalty to give Minnesota man advantage that carried over into overtime, but the Gophers couldn’t find the back of the net and the game ended in a 4-4 draw.
It was Minnesota’s sixth tie in its last 12 meetings against the Spartans, who kept the Mariucci-Bessone Trophy with a three-point weekend.
The Gophers begin a seven-game homestand next week against in-state WCHA foe Minnesota State.