Men’s hockey pulls away in third, defeats Minnesota State

The Gophers scored two goals in the third period and won 4-2.

Dane Mizutani

In a battle between first place and last place in the WCHA, it was hard to tell which team was which on Friday at Mariucci Arena.

Until the third period.

No. 5 Minnesota (12-4-1, 9-2-0 WCHA) used a two-goal performance in the final frame to beat Minnesota State 4-2 and win its first opening game of a series in three weeks.

This one was not easy.

The Gophers got out to the early start they were looking for when Taylor Matson netted his fourth goal of the season less than two minutes into the game.

Matson took a pass from Nate Condon and fired a shot from the right circle that beat goaltender Austin Lee to put the Gophers up one goal early.

Despite the lead, MinnesotaâÄôs poor rush defense from the series with Michigan State seemed to carry over to this weekend.

After failing to convert on multiple odd-man rush chances following the Matson goal, the Mavericks netted the equalizer at 8:04.

Evan Mosey controlled the puck off a long rush and fired a lazy shot from just inside the blue line that beat Kent Patterson stick side.

That goal seemed to suck the life out of the Minnesota attack, but in the early in the second period the Gophers struck again.

Nick Larson took a pass from Ben Marshall and snuck in his second goal of the season just inside the right post.

This goal got the home crowd back into it, but again Minnesota State (3-1-1, 2-8-1 WCHA) refused to go away.

During a scrum in the crease which saw nearly half the players on the ice piled on top Patterson, Jean-Paul Lafontaine controlled the puck a flipped it over the chaos to tie the game at 2-2.

This score would hold until the end of the period. The Gophers were outshot 11-5 in the second period.

Erik Haula broke the tie early third period with a one-timer on the power play.

It was his second goal in as many games after having gone without a goal since Oct. 28.

The Mavericks continued to apply pressure throughout the period, but to no avail.

They pulled Lee to gain an extra attacker, but Jake Hansen netted an empty-net goal to finalize the score at 4-2 and keep Minnesota atop the WCHA. 

The Gophers will look to earn their first sweep in nearly a month Saturday at Mariucci Arena.