Men’s hockey recovers to beat Michigan State

Tim Nichols

The Gophers men’s hockey team opened the College Hockey Showcase on Friday looking more like the squad responsible for six losses than the one that racked up six wins.
Minnesota failed to capitalize on goal-scoring opportunities and let defensive miscues turn into transition goals for the opposition in a 3-2 loss to No. 4 Michigan.
The Gophers were able to turn it around, however, putting together one of their strongest performances in a long time in a 2-1 win over No. 8 Michigan State on Sunday.
“We haven’t played that well in maybe two years,” said senior Wyatt Smith, who scored the game winner. “We did everything right tonight. Everyone who went out played well. We played well on Friday, and it seems like the better the level (of play) the other team is, the better we play.”
For the first time in recent memory, the Gophers (7-7-2 overall, 5-5-2 in the WCHA) put together one of those fabled 60-minute efforts they’ve talked about for so long. Minnesota got a taste of what a complete game is really like when it upset the No. 8 Spartans.
“There were different guys playing on different lines, with the exception of the Spehar (Reggie Berg and Wyatt Smith) line,” coach Doug Woog said. “Two guys gave us good efforts, (Matt) Leimbek and (Doug) Meyer. They gave us good minutes, and last night they gave us good shifts.”
The Gophers did give a relatively good effort in their 3-2 loss to the Wolverines, but in the end the game told the same old story.
Instead of a complete game, it was more like 59:30 of a total effort. On a power play less than a minute into the second period, Michigan defenseman Bubba Berenzweig squeaked in his first goal of the season. Forward Greg Crozier followed with a score 30 seconds later, beating Minnesota goaltender Adam Hauser from the top of the slot.
“Hauser played fine, and we had our best chances early,” Woog said. “We had nothing off the power play. I thought our effort was good, but the execution in the second period left a lot to be desired.”
Hauser stopped 27 of 28 shots against the Spartans to pick up his first win since he won the starting goaltender position outright when junior Willy Marvin left the team last week.
Near the end of the game, however, Hauser looked more like professional wrestler than a goalie when he took down a Spartan defenseman in a scrum in front of the net.
“The goalie can’t leave the crease,” Michigan State coach Ron Mason said. “That’s the same in any league. It was all started by him. He got away with murder.”
But Hauser wasn’t only good in taking out other opponents; he was excellent at keeping the puck out of the net.
“We got solid goaltending,” Smith said. “When Willy left, I was a little worried because I think he would become comfortable. But he played solid.”
Minnesota will now enjoy a nice, long break until Dec. 27, when the Gophers take on Princeton in the opening game of the Mariucci Classic.
As for how the Gophers will spend their break, the freshman goaltender had some sound advice for his teammates.
“You’ve got to have fun, you just have to,” Hauser said. “But then realize that we have start really fast when we come back. So you have to have fun, it’s a must. But you also have to file it in the back of your mind that we got to come back strong.”

SCORING SUMMARIES
Saturday
Michigan State 0 1 0 — 1
Gophers 0 1 1 — 2

FIRST PERIOD: No scoring.
SECOND PERIOD: Minn — Anderson 2 (Westrum 4), SHG, 7:05. MSU — Nail 1 (Adams 4), 16:54.
THIRD PERIOD: Minn — Smith 9 (Spehar 10), PPG, 9:28.

Friday
Michigan 0 1 2 — 3
Gophers 1 0 1 — 2

FIRST PERIOD: Minn — Leopold 4 (Pohl 2, Mills 5), 14:17.
SECOND PERIOD: Mich — Comrie 6 (Berenzweig 6), 14:38.
THIRD PERIOD: Mich — Berenzweig 4 (unassisted), PPG, :34. Mich — Crozier 1 (Hayes 5, Jillson 4). Minn — Leopold 5 (Anderson 5, Smith 9), 19:16.