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Sampo Ranta scores in overtime to send Gophers men’s hockey to Big Ten semifinal

In its first game of the Big Ten Tournament, Minnesota rallied from behind to beat Michigan State 2-1.
Image by Ethan Fine
Gophers defenseman Matt Staudacher steers the puck at 3M Arena on Saturday, Feb. 20. The Gophers defeated Michigan State, 5-1.

With its postseason dreams on the line, Sampo Ranta punched the Gophers men’s hockey team’s ticket to the Big Ten semifinal with his game-winning goal in overtime against the Michigan State Spartans on Sunday night.

Halfway through the overtime period, Jaxon Nelson fed a pass through traffic to Ranta, who took a shot and missed it. He quickly recovered, corralling the puck on his stick and sending it past the Michigan State goaltender for the win.

In net for the Spartans, freshman goaltender Pierce Charleson stifled Minnesota’s offense with solid play. Charleson stopped 48 of 50 Minnesota shots-on-net. The defensemen in front of him also put in the work, blocking 28 shot attempts by the Gophers.

Michigan State also had the edge over Minnesota on the scoreboard for most of the game. Dennis Cesana’s goal in the first period would be the only tally through nearly two whole play periods, but there was little frustration on the Minnesota bench, said sophomore Bryce Brodzinski.

“No one was really frustrated. Everyone was getting their chances; everyone knew [a goal] was coming. The coaches kept telling us it was coming, and finally it did – late,” Brodzinski said.

Brodzinski himself delivered the tying goal with just five minutes remaining in regulation with assists from Mike Koster and Matt Staudacher. The goal marked his fourth-straight game with at least one point, setting a new career-best streak.

He attributed his hot streak to eating breakfast, something he only started doing recently at his roommates’ behest. Taking notes from Scott Reedy, Brodzinski began making eggs every morning, which he said may have helped give him a boost on the ice.

Minnesota will face Michigan in the semifinal round of the Big Ten Ice Hockey Tournament on Monday at 7:30 p.m.

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