Gophers start and finish slow, lose to Mankato 5-1

Mankato had a goal in the first minute of the second and third period to pull away with a 5-1 victory.

Senior forward Brent Gates Jr. eyes the puck as he tries to maneuver past the University of Minnesota Duluth during the game on Sunday, Oct. 7 at Mariucci Arena. The Gophers won 7-4.

Ellen Schmidt

Senior forward Brent Gates Jr. eyes the puck as he tries to maneuver past the University of Minnesota Duluth during the game on Sunday, Oct. 7 at Mariucci Arena. The Gophers won 7-4.

Jack Warrick

Minnesota started slow, warmed up, and then finished slow in Friday night’s loss to Minnesota State-Mankato.

Minnesota (1-2-1) lost to No. 4 Minnesota State at 3M Arena at Mariucci due to weak first and third periods that resulted in a 5-1 loss to the in-state opponent. It was the first game of a two-game weekend series against the Mavericks.

“We had a stretch in the second period where we started to see our game,” said head coach Bob Motzko. “Outside of that we ran into trouble.”

The Gophers dominated the second period on paper, outshooting the Mavericks 13-4 in that frame. However, Minnesota couldn’t get a goal out of it, and they went into the second intermission down 3-1. Mankato scored in the first minute of the second period.

“I thought for the second period … we played well, and I thought we were turning, getting on ’em on the fore check, doing exactly what we talked about, and what we want to do.” forward Brent Gates Jr. said. 

But in the third period, Mankato scored in the first minute to give the team a 4-1 lead. The goal was another one-time, this time coming from Mankato forward Marc Michaelis off of a feed from Charlie Gerard.

Gerard and Michaelis each had four points in the game.

Michaelis put the game to rest, making it 5-1 after Gophers goaltender Eric Schierhorn, who subbed in for Mat Robson in the final 9:22 of the game, tried to stop a break away. Schierhorn lunged for the puck, almost got to it by the blue line, but Michaelis was quicker and stick handled around him to score on an empty net with 3:24 to play.

“Not a lot of positives really,” said senior forward Tommy Novak. “We couldn’t really get a ground game going at all, and we just had a lot of turn overs and bonehead plays that caused them to score five to our one.”

Gates scored his second goal of season on the power play with 5:27 left in the first period. Gates caught a deflected Clayton Phillips shot and flipped around. He shot without aiming and it beat Mankato goalie Mathias Israelsson on the ice near the left post. Phillips leads the Gophers with five points. The sophomore defender from Edina has five assists in four games.

“I just kind of found it in the slot and turned and tried to put it on net, and found an opening” Gates said. 

The 1-1 score after the lone Gophers’ goal was short lived. Gerard slapped at a centering pass in front of the net and dished it past Robson’s glove with 4:19 left in the first. 

Mankato’s Dallas Gerads opened up scoring going blocker side low on Robson on the third shot of the game for Mankato at 14:04 on the clock in the first. Gerads took three penalties Friday night.

Mankato scored a goal in the opening minute of the second and third periods. 

Freshman wing Nathan Burke made his college debut in the loss.

“I want to go back over film on that right now, on that. Because I’m really looking at the style we were playing versus the individuals,” Motzko said.

The Gophers will play game two of the series on Saturday at the Verizon Center in Mankato, Minnesota.