Over 5,000 fans left Munn Ice Arena disappointed Friday night, as the Michigan State Spartans fell to the No. 6 Minnesota Golden Gophers 5-0 in Michigan State’s Big Ten home opener.
The Spartans started strong and set the pace early in the game, but an early penalty by JT Stenglein gave Minnesota’s powerplay (which was .293 coming into this game) a chance to take the momentum. A nifty passing play set up Travis Boyd (no relation to Ron Boyd of MSU) for a tap-in and an easy power-play goal, which made it 1-0 Gophers.
When the Spartans did get a power play later in the period, the Gophers went to work again as Sam Warning converted on a Minnesota two-on-one to make it 2-0.
Late in the period, the Gophers struck again on the power play courtesy of Kyle Rau, who bursted in with speed and whizzed a backhander over Jake Hildebrand’s shoulder. The Gophers led 3-0 after only nine shots on goal in the first period.
“They are a really good team, and if you’re not dialed in and at your best then they’re going to give it to you,” junior captain Michael Ferrantino said.
In the second period, the Gophers took up right where they left off in the first. Mike Reilly took the puck in on the left side, danced around Ferrantino and beat Hildebrand on a deke to give Minnesota a 4-0 lead.
While the Spartans had chances, they could not find the back of the net, as Adam Wilcox continued his stellar performance for the Gophers.
MSU head coach Tom Anastos said the goals that Minnesota scored came too easy,
“Those goals were easy, you know, they were easy goals, so that was the start of the frustration and I didn’t think we handled it well enough tonight,” Anastos said. “You know that team is going to score their goals, but you’ve got to really make them fight for them and they came to easy.”
Numerous penalties also prevented MSU from gaining any type of momentum. As the game progressed into the third period, tempers started to flare as the Spartans took several uncharacteristic retaliatory penalties, highlighted by Stenglein’s altercation with a Gopher at center ice.
In total the Spartans took nine penalties, five of which came in the third period.
Minnesota converted on three of their seven power plays, including a 5-on-3 late in the third period to ice the game.
“It wasn’t our night tonight…. they were a much better team than we were,” Anastos said.
The Spartans (1-2-0, 5-9-0) will face the Gophers again Saturday afternoon at Munn Ice Arena. Puck drop is set for 5:00 pm.
Jason Ruff is the host of Behind the Mask for Impact Sports
Photo: Brian Bobal/Impact Sports