Minnesota’s sluggish second period not a recipe for success

The Gophers struggled in many facets in the second period, which allowed the Wolverines to take advantage.

Senior forward Brent Gates Junior looks to the play on Friday, Feb. 1 at 3M Arena at Mariucci.

Jasmin Kemp

Senior forward Brent Gates Junior looks to the play on Friday, Feb. 1 at 3M Arena at Mariucci.

Drew Cove

After the first period, the Gophers looked poised to have a competitive game with a team that had a similar record.

Minnesota and Michigan were near even in goals and shots, with goals tied at 1-1 and shots a 13-12 slight Michigan lead. The next 20 minutes were anything but even and proved fatal for the Gophers’ effort to get back into the win column.

“We had to kill a penalty, then we had the five-on-three, kill another penalty. We killed them all off,” said head coach Bob Motzko. “You’re hoping after the [5-on-3] you get some momentum going, then we gave up a goal within a minute.”

The Gophers lost 4-2 Friday after Michigan dominated Minnesota in the second period, especially in the most important category: goals. The Wolverines outscored the Gophers 2-0 in the second. 

That two-goal cushion came from the Wolverines’ efficient offensive push, which came in the form of 22 shots in that period. Minnesota had five shots in the second, with the first coming after nearly 15 minutes of play. The distance was similar in shots attempted between the two teams. The Gophers attempted 12 shots in the second period, while the Wolverines doubled that and more with 31 shot attempts. 

“[It’s] just us getting out-competed, out-battled pretty much everywhere, especially five-on-five,” said senior Tommy Novak.

Minnesota had been heavily reliant on successful power plays in recent games. Coming into Friday’s game, the Gophers ranked No. 5 in the nation in power play, converting over 25 percent of their chances.

In Friday’s game, overall, the team was 2-7 on the power play, but the Gophers went 0-2 in the second period with one shot combined between the two circumstances. 

“We weren’t really into the game in that period,” Novak said. “We couldn’t get any ground game offensively or any clean breakouts, so [it] wasn’t a good period for us.”

The penalty kill, while it was successful and did not allow a goal in the game, was forced to be out on the ice for much of the second period, including a five-on-three that lasted 1:24 with two of Minnesota’s defensemen in the box.

“[Michigan] played a hard, honest game,” said junior Rem Pitlick. “They clogged it up and we’ll come back ready [Saturday.]”

When asked about the difference between the first and second periods, Pitlick said it had to do with game flow and momentum.

“That’s just hockey, momentum sometimes,” Pitlick said. “It didn’t go our way, our hope is that it’s going to go our way tomorrow.”