EAST LANSING, Mich (WLNS) – An empty Munn Ice Arena was an uninhabited battleground for No. 5 Minnesota to take on Michigan State. Before the puck dropped to start game one of their two-game series on Thursday night, the Spartans led the Big Ten Conference in shots-on-goal and faceoff win percentage.
The Gophers didn’t waste any time in taking advantage of the Spartans’ mistakes. Just five minutes into the first period, MSU’s Christian Krygier was called for high sticking. The man-advantage gave Minnesota’s Ben Meyers the space to be free at the top of the offensive zone for a wrist shot that found the back of the net for a goal.
A minute and thirty-six seconds later, Minnesota’s Sampo Ranta back-handed a loose puck in front of MSU’s net sneaking it between goalie Drew DeRidder’s legs. A quick 2-0 lead for the Gophers was not the way the Spartans imagined this game developing. Then, another loose puck in front of the net was sent in by Minnesota’s Scott Reedy in the second period, making it 3-0.
The Spartans were able to break the shutout in the third period with a goal from Cole Krygier but the Gophers would go on to win game one, 3-1. MSU’s head coach Danton Cole was pleased with the way his players fought but shared that they can’t give up so much and expect to win.
“If you would have told me at the end of the first period that we (would) be two minutes to go pulling our goalie and having some decent chances I probably wouldn’t have taken that bet,” said Cole. “But hey they fought through. Again it’s a learning process but you just can’t give forty minutes away, not a good plan.”
The Spartans will be back at Munn on Friday night for the second game of the series against Minnesota, the puck is set to drop at 8 p.m.