Gophers Overcome Spartans Quick Start
EAST LANSING, Mich. (GopherSports.com) – Justin Kloos and Tyler Sheehy each tallied a goal and an assist as the No. 11 Gopher Hockey program topped Michigan State 4-2 on Friday night in this weekend’s series opener at Munn Ice Arena.
Vinni Lettieri and Darian Romanko also scored for the Gophers, who tied season bests for shots on goal (44) and shots on goal allowed (14).
Sheehy improved on an already stellar sophomore season with his fourth multi-point game in the last five contests while extending his point streak to a career-high seven games. The forward now leads Minnesota with 10 goals, 12 assists and 22 points this season while Lettieri’s game-winning goal extended his point streak to a career-best five games.
The Gophers (8-5-2 overall, 2-1-0-0 Big Ten) survived an early onslaught by the home squad that saw Michigan State notch four shots on goal including the first goal of the night – JT Stenglein’s first tally of the season at 3:30 of the opening stanza.
But after that, Minnesota would outshoot the Spartans 43-10 for the remainder of the contest and allowed just three shots on goal to the Spartans in both the second and third periods – tying the season low for the Maroon & Gold.
Kloos sent the Gophers into the first period on a high note with his seventh goal of the year, batting a loose puck out of the air at 10:54 with an assist to Sheehy. The duo then paired up midway through the second for a go-ahead go – this time with Kloos and Ryan Zuhlsdorf setting up Sheehy at 10:54.
Lettieri’s eventual game winner came less than two minutes later when the senior forward easily intercepted an errant pass from Michigan State goalie Ed Minney at 14:19 and deposited the puck into the net for his seventh of the year.
Michigan State (4-7-1, 0-1-0-0) cut into the lead at 16:57 of the second period with Taro Hirose’s third goal of the year, but Romanko’s empty-net tally at 18:59 of the third sealed the win for the Maroon & Gold. The sophomore netted his first career goal from 87 feet out when he sent the puck sailing through the air from the center red line and into the net – his first goal in 49 games with Minnesota.
Eric Schiehorn made 12 saves to pick up the win for Minnesota, moving to 8-5-2 on the year while Minney made 40 saves in the losing effort for Michigan State. The Gophers penalty kill went 2-for-2 on the night while the power play was 0-for-5 although Minnesota improved to 4-0-1 on the year in games without scoring a power-play goal.
The two Big Ten foes close out this weekend’s series tonight at 7 o'clock, coverage on KROC AM begins at 6:30 with the pre-game show.