Gophers men’s hockey scores five unanswered goals in 6-3 win to sweep Michigan State

The Gophers now sit atop the Big Ten with 25 points after their comeback win.

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Junior Bryce Brodzinski celebrates with senior Captain Sammy Walker in a game against the University of Notre Dame on Friday, October 29, 2021 at 3M Arena at Mariucci in Minneapolis, Minn.

by Michael Lyne , Sports Reporter

After a slow start in East Lansing against Michigan State, the No. 9/11 Gophers found their footing to mount a 6-3 comeback win to earn the sweep, its seventh-straight victory against the Spartans, and take hold of first place in the Big Ten with 25 points.

The Gophers, who have split their last five series, are on their way toward “more consistency,” something head coach Bob Motzko wants to see his team improve on in the second half of the season.

Much of the first period was not pretty for Minnesota. The Gophers allowed a goal on the penalty kill and only converted on just one of four power plays.

Michigan State’s Erik Middendorf scored the game’s first goal just 3:01 into the first period on an empty net after graduate student goaltender Jack LaFontaine gave up the puck behind Minnesota’s net. Then, Jeremy Davidson extended Michigan State’s lead to 2-0 after he buried a rebound on the power play with 8:29 remaining.

However, the “nine” line stopped the bleeding for the Gophers with 1:16 remaining in the first period. Freshman Chaz Lucius buried a sharp angle shot from the bottom of the left circle on the power play to cut Michigan State’s lead to 2-1.

As the second period got underway, Minnesota began to control the game much as they did on Friday night, even though they did not convert on two more power plays.

However, the Spartans had the first answer as Middendorf scored his second goal of the game off a rebound to extend Michigan State’s lead to 3-1 with 10:38 remaining in the period.

In a game where the Gophers started to control the pace of play and shots on goal column, nothing seemed to be going their way, especially for most of the second period.

But with under two minutes remaining in the second period, that all changed as junior Ben Meyers and freshman Aaron Huglen tallied goals just 38 seconds apart to equalize the game at 3-3 heading into the third period.

Looking to continue their momentum after Huglen’s bonkers pinball-style goal, the Gophers did just that as they scored three goals in the third period.

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Senior Blake McLaughlin scored the game-winning goal for the Gophers after deflecting a shot from the point by sophomore Brock Faber, marking Minnesota’s first lead of the game at 4-3.

To close out Minnesota’s dominating finish to their sweep, junior Jack Perbix scored his third goal this season, and Meyers closed out the win by scoring his second goal of the night.

The first four unanswered goals for the Gophers came in a span of 5:03 that stretched from late in the second period to early in the third period.

Meyers dominated in the sweep as he recorded four goals and an assist. He leads Minnesota with 23 points (nine goals, 14 assists) in 20 games this season.

The Gophers (12-8) earned their third series sweep this season and the first since they swept Notre Dame on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021.

Perbix, Meyers, junior Bryce Brodzinski, and freshman Matthew Knies recorded multi-point games as 12 Minnesota skaters tallied a point in Saturday’s comeback win.

The Gophers recorded a season-high 60 shots on goal as Michigan State had 24 of their own.

Minnesota will look to continue their undefeated start to the new year as they host Alaska on Friday, Jan. 14, at 6 p.m. and Saturday, Jan. 15, at 6 p.m. at 3M Arena at Mariucci.