Unanswered Goals Doom Spartans in 5-3 Loss to No. 14/15 Minnesota

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Unanswered Goals Doom Spartans in 5-3 Loss  to No. 14/15 Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS - No. 14/15 Minnesota used five unanswered goals to top the Michigan State hockey team, 5-3, on Thursday night at Mariucci Arena in Minneapolis. The Spartans (13-14-2, 7-6-2-2) opened the game with three straight first-period goals, but the Gophers (18-10-3, 8-3-3-0) climbed back with five consecutive, including two on the power play, to win the series opener.

The Spartans started the game with a bang, scoring three consecutive goals in first 10:34 of the opening period courtesy of Joe Cox (two) and Brent Darnell.

Cox got his first on the power play 1:25 into the game.

After a tripping call to Taylor Cammarata at the 1:19 mark, Michael Ferrantino won face off back to Travis Walsh, who dished the puck to Cox. Cox walked in from the blue line and wristed the puck past goaltender Nick Lehr from the top of the right circle just six seconds into the power play.

Darnell gave MSU a 2-0 lead with the first of two MSU goals in a 1:13 span.

Darnell carried the puck into the Gopher zone and skated toward the right circle and snapped a low shot along the ice from the face-off dot that beat Lehr on the far side.

Ron Boyd and John Draeger both picked up assists on the Darnell goal with 10:39 to play in the first.

Ryan Keller and Ferrantino set up Cox for his second goal of the period to give the Spartans a 3-0 lead with 9:26 to play in the opening stanza.

Keller tossed the puck out front for Cox who controlled it and then took it behind the net, circling around to Lehr’s right where he tucked it in.

Travis Boyd scored the first of the Gophers’ five straight with 1:39 to play in the first, making it a 3-1 game after one.

The Gophers cut the MSU lead to 3-2 3:40 into the second when Mike Reilly scored on a rebound after a tremendous diving save by Jake Hildebrand. Hildebrand dove to his right to stop the initial attempt, kicking the puck out behind the goal line. Reilly threw the puck back toward the net where it bounced off Hildebrand and into the net.

Hudson Fasching tied the game when he scored first of two straight power play goals for the Gophers, putting home a rebound with 12:49 to go in the second.

With Cox off for interference, Sam Warning’s redirection of a Leon Bristedt shot with 1:30 to play in the second gave Minnesota its first lead, 4-3.

“Special teams were a difference in the game,” MSU head coach Tom Anastos said. “I thought that penalty (to Joe Cox) was a real momentum shift and it got them the key goal.

“They won more key moments in the game than we did tonight. I thought we had lots of scoring opportunities and had we finished a couple of those, it could have been a different outcome. I thought our guys played real hard tonight; Minnesota is really talented team.”

Warning capped the scoring with an empty-net goal.

Hildebrand finished the game with 37 saves; Lehr made 21.