Another game came down to the wire for the Gophers, and they were able to come out on top. The No. 13 Gophers (15-12-1, 6-9-1 Big Ten) finished the sweep 2-1 Saturday against Michigan State (9-16-1, 3-12-1 Big Ten), their first Big Ten sweep since they last did it against the Spartans earlier this season.
Things got close near the end, but the Gophers saw their top forwards come in when they needed them. No. 13 Minnesota (14-12-1, 5-9-1 Big Ten) squeaked out a win over unranked Michigan State (9-13-1, 3-9-1 Big Ten) 5-4 Thursday from Munn Ice Arena in East Lansing, Mich.
Minnesota is 1-8-1 in its last 10 conference games, even though the team has won the Big Ten four years in a row. Now, the Gophers sit one game above .500 in the final stretch before the NCAA tournament. Minnesota will look to bounce back in an attempt to save its season.
Defensive backs coach and newly appointed assistant head coach Maurice Linguist departed from Minnesota to become an assistant coach at Texas A&M University.
The team held a players-only meeting to ensure they saw a change before the next game. But No. 9 Minnesota (13-12-1, 4-9-1-1 Big Ten) didn't have the jump on Saturday, and the Gophers finished winless in four tries against Michigan (10-10-2, 5-7-2-1 Big Ten) this season, losing the final game 3-1 and dropping the season series 0-3-1.
Minnesota and St. Cloud State battled it out through a scoreless game, until an unlikely suspect scored the clinching goal for the Gophers. Forward Darian Romanko — known for his penalty kill and defensive ability — scored the game-winner off a turnover to the middle of the ice in the offensive zone three minutes into the third period.
Minnesota faced a tough task Saturday against top-ranked St. Cloud State. The Huskies showed throughout the game why they are the No. 1 team in the country, as the Gophers could not pull off the road upset.
Last season, P.J. Fleck stepped into his role as Minnesota's head coach with around a month to hit the recruiting trail for his new team. This year, Fleck had a full season to prepare for signing day, which resulted in the highest-ranked recruiting class in a decade.
The offensive performance for the Gophers this season has shown glimpses of being effective and efficient, but the same struggles to score led to Minnesota’s loss Friday to Ohio State 2-1 in overtime and 4-1 Saturday after late goals from the Buckeyes.
Defenseman Tyler Nanne is halfway through his first season patrolling Minnesota’s blue line, and he isn’t taking playing time for granted.