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Michigan State hockey beats Minnesota in last-second thriller

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Michigan State hockey
© Nick King/Lansing State Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

Michigan State hockey was able to rise up and beat Minnesota after trailing 2-0 in a last-second thriller.

On Friday, No. 7 ranked Michigan State hockey (16-5-3) got off to a great start in a pivotal series against the No. 9 ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers (14-6-4) in East Lansing. The Spartans, coming off a whiplash of a series against Michigan last weekend got a huge win to keep them on top of the Big Ten standings. This series is the second of the season between these two teams.

The Spartans and the Gophers met back in November and split the series in Minneapolis in which the Spartans won one of the games in a shootout. This game, like the shootout winner in the Twin Cities, ended spectacularly.

Scoring Recap

  • First period

The scoring opened only ninety seconds into the game. On their first trip into the offensive zone, Luke Mittelstadt sent the puck from the blue line to Mike Koster. Koster, a senior defenseman, then snuck the puck in on Augustine’s short side for his 3rd goal of the year. On the play was overcommitting on the left side and let Koster walk in for an open shot. This gave a very good Gophers team the early 1-0 lead.

  • Second period

It was more of the same in the second by the Gophers. This time, the 19th overall pick in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft, Oliver Moore. The play started with a Spartan turnover that was recovered by Jimmy Snuggerud. He then streaked up the side and passed the puck to his Team USA teammate Moore who faked out Augustine and buried the puck in the opposite corner of the net. The goal was Moore’s 5th of the season and gave the Gophers a 2-0 lead with two minutes remaining in the second.

  • Third period

You always remember your first! Just over two minutes into the third, the Spartans got on the board. The goal was set up by a Maxim Štrbák shot taken from the blue line. The shot rebounded off of Gopher goalie Justen Close and allowed Griffin Jurecki a perfect opportunity to net his 1st goal as a Spartan. The freshman forward now in six games has two points to his name with a goal and an assist. What was more important though is that he narrowed the gap to a one-goal deficit.

The scoring was not over for the Spartans though. With only five minutes left to go in the game, Finnish forward Tommi Männistö, split the defenders as he charged right up the middle to get an amazing shot off on Close. The only problem is that he stopped it, or so he thought. Karsen Dorwart was rewarded for supporting his teammate and snuck the puck past Close before he could find it. The goal was Dorwart’s 10th of the season and tied the game at a critical point in the game. The only thing that could make it better, it was a shorthanded goal.

The Spartans offense only got better as the period went on. In the waning seconds of the 3rd, everybody inside Munn arena was ready for this game to head to overtime. Danny Russell had other plans though. Russell, in desperation mode, redirected a shot from Isaac Howard that he then redirected past Close to give the Spartans the lead, and the eventual win, with only four seconds remaining in the game. That game winning goal was Russell’s 8th of the season and gave the Spartans three huge points to pad their lead at the top of the Big Ten standings.

Conclusions

While it did take two periods for the boys to get going, in the end, MSU got the outcome that they were looking for. The Spartans now lead the Big Ten with 40 points. The next best team is Wisconsin with 30 points. The Spartans are putting themselves in a great position to bring the school its first Big Ten Regular Season Championship. This is not to say that the team doesn’t have things to work on though. Penalties continue to be a big problem for MSU including tonight. Minnesota had five powerplay opportunities in this game. Luckily, the Gophers were not able to convert on any of those opportunities, but this needs to be a focus before the game tomorrow afternoon and moving forward.

Michigan State hockey will play the Golden Gophers again on Satrurday to end their regular season series. Puck drop will be at 4 p.m. ET from Munn. The game will also be airing on BTN.

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