It took until mid-January, but the Gophers have a winning record.
Minnesota (11-10, 6-2 Big Ten) cruised to a 5-2 victory on Friday night against Michigan State (5-17-2, 1-7 Big Ten) and staged a third period comeback Saturday for a 3-1
victory and series sweep.
The Gophers started the season 0-3 but improved throughout the year. The team hasn’t lost a game in regulation since Dec. 11 at Michigan.
“Since our second game in Michigan, we’ve played some pretty good hockey,” junior center Justin Kloos told reporters after Saturday’s game. “I think we’ve took it to almost every team we’ve played.”
Kloos had a banner weekend, scoring two goals and two assists. His freshman linemate Tyler Sheehy had four assists in the two games, including a career-high three on Saturday.
Kloos’ second goal of the weekend came on the first shift of the third period on Saturday and tied the game 1-1. Redshirt junior Connor Reilly scored his second goal of the season 11 minutes later to put the Gophers ahead.
“I’ve been in a little bit of a rut, so it’s nice to finally get rewarded,” Reilly told reporters Saturday. “I’ll take anything I can get.”
Sophomore forward Leon Bristedt added an empty-net goal just as time expired, finishing off the team’s second sweep of conference play.
“I think we’re becoming a closer unit altogether,” Sheehy told reporters Saturday. “It’s showing on the ice a lot.”
Kloos had another goal on the first shift Friday night, scoring 21 seconds into his 100th collegiate game to give Minnesota an early lead.
Sophomore forward Hudson Fasching added two goals for the Gophers to bring his season total up to 13, one more than he had all of last year.
Linemate Bristedt added three assists on Friday night.
“It definitely feels good to keep scoring,” Fasching told reporters Friday. “It really goes back to how our line’s playing. We’re playing well, obviously.”
Junior defenseman Jake Bischoff and freshman forward Ryan Norman had the Gophers’ other two goals in the victory.
“Seems like all the lines are starting to score a little bit more so we don’t have to just rely on one,” head coach Don Lucia told reporters afterFriday’s game. “Hopefully that can continue.”
The Gophers were especially dominant Friday and Saturday on the penalty kill, as the Spartans were unable to score a power-play goal in six chances and only had four total shots. Minnesota didn’t find success in their own power play, though, going 0-5 on the weekend.
Freshman goaltender Eric Schierhorn finished the series with 34 saves — 17 in each game.
Minnesota has now won three games in a row and five of its last seven. The two losses came in overtime to No. 7 Harvard and No. 15 Penn State.
“We feel our team has improved,” Lucia told reporters Saturday. “It’s getting better.”