Gophers’ men’s hockey lose first weekend series to Minnesota State

The Gophers lost 5-1 Friday, before losing the first series of the year with a 2-1 loss on Saturday's finale.

Forward Rem Pitlick engages his defender at 3M Arena at Mariucci on Friday, Nov. 2. The Gophers fell to Minnesota State with a final score of 5-1.

Jack Rodgers

Forward Rem Pitlick engages his defender at 3M Arena at Mariucci on Friday, Nov. 2. The Gophers fell to Minnesota State with a final score of 5-1.

Jack Warrick

Minnesota State Mankato dealt Minnesota its first series loss of the year when it defeated the Gophers on Saturday at the Verizon Center in Mankato, Minnesota.

The Gophers (1-3-1) opened up scoring in the first period with a power play goal from forward Rem Pitlick off a pass from Tyler Sheehy. The power play goal, scored in the first six minutes, was the only Minnesota goal tallied. Mankato (7-1) answered with two of its own, and the Mavericks took a 2-1 victory.

The Gophers have lost the last three games, and haven’t scored in regulation 5-on-5 play in those three games.

“We were in the game. I mean, we kicked the one in our own net and we hit a couple posts,” head coach Bob Motzko told the Gophers radio network. “That’s a very old, grizzled hockey team. And we battled to the end.”

Mankato took advantage of special teams play in the second game to come away with a series win over Minnesota. The Mavericks scored twice early in the second period, the first on the power play and the other on the penalty kill.

Mankato’s Parker Tuomie scored at 3:46 in the second period on the power play. The Gophers had a chance to take advantage of a power play later in the period. Instead, they gave up a shorthanded goal and the lead, 2-1, with just over five minutes played in the second period. The game-winner went in off Pitlick’s foot on a goofy bounce, after goalie Eric Schierhorn saved the initial shot.

The Gophers had seven penalties Saturday and five in Friday’s game.

“If you take our seven penalties away, they didn’t have many chances except for on the power play,” Motzko told reporters. “We had to use a lot of energy killing penalties.”

Motzko said the penalties were something that he and the coaching staff were addressing in practice as the Gophers have taken 37 penalties through the first five games.

Minnesota lost the faceoff battle 33-21.

The Gophers were dominated 5-1 in the first game of the series on Friday. Minnesota scored once late in the first period, but allowed four unanswered goals. In the second period, the Gophers outshot the Mavericks 13-4, but only Mankato scored in the second period — on the first shot of that frame.

“We needed to put our foot down in a meeting this morning. The guys needed to determine how they were going to come out and compete tonight, and they did,” Motzko told the Gophers radio network.

The Gophers will move to Big Ten play next weekend when they go to Wisconsin-Madison to play the Badgers (4-3) in a Friday-Saturday two-game series. Minnesota is scheduled to play both games in Madison.