Mpls, MN – Sometimes you win on the ice but not the scoreboard. That was certainly the case on Sunday at Mariucci Arena as backup goaltender Mat Robson stopped all 34 shots thrown at him in a 2-0 (empty net goal) victory for the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers. Granted, the Gophers have been good at home this season – 10-2-0 entering this contest but benefited by a goal waved off and a killer turnover in securing their 11th win at home this season. In the process they also stopped a five-game win streak over the Gophers by SCSU and also ends a 13 game losing streak to in-state rivals UMD and SCSU.
Backup goaltender Mat Robson was good, the Gophers blocked 20 shots on goal and they killed all three man-advantage opportunities by the Huskies. However, the Huskies dominated the Gophers down low in the Gopher defensive zone and gave them little choice but to stack the front of the net or bang it off the glass out of the zone. That was essentially the Gophers only option as they were repeatedly out-muscled and outworked throughout major portions of period two and three being outshot 25-9 and relying on either Robson or the defense to block the SCSU attack.
Obviously disappointed by their effort in St. Cloud on Friday it was assumed there would be a better effort on Sunday by the Gophers on their home ice and it was the case for the first 20 minutes. The teams essentially traded shots on goal with the Gophers outshooting the Huskies 10-9 and killing off both man-advantage opportunities by SCSU.
The Huskies began to gain momentum in the second period using their quick transition game to gain the majority of the territorial advantage and to begin to win many of the battles down low in the Gopher zone. The Huskies work finally paid off at 16:55 of the period on a beautiful play between Blake Lizotte and Mikey Eyssimont. Lizotte made a cross-ice pass to Eyssimont who beat Robson with a shot from just inside the blue line. However, the play was placed under review – first announced as a man in the crease, then, as a offside and finally as a too many men on the ice infraction. Ultimately, after the confusion settled down, the officials ruled too many men on the ice and waved off the goal. The Huskies outshot the Gophers 10-6 in period two and killed both Gopher power play opportunities to enter the third period in a scoreless game.
Unfortunately for the Huskies, disaster struck early in period three with the Gophers Darian Romanko scoring his second goal of the season – unassisted at 3:10. First-year defenseman, Lucas Jaycox attempted a cross-ice clearing pass from the right corner that ended up feeding Romanko perfectly just inside the blue line and he beat SCSU’s Hrenak top shelf from the top of the circles. And, despite continued intense pressure in the Gopher defensive zone the Huskies were unable to solve Robson despite again outshooting the Gophers 15-5 in the period. The Huskies again had a power play opportunity after an interference call to Tyler Nanne at 12:32 but the Gophers held firm once again in shutting down the SCSU power play. With Hrenak pulled for an extra attacker, the Gophers Mike Szmatula sealed the victory with an empty net goal at 19:21.
#1 Star of the game Mat Robson stopped all 34 shots on goal he faced while SCSU’s Hrenak turned aside 19 of 20 shots on goal. SCSU outshot the Gophers 34 to 21 for the game. SCSU was 0 for 3 on the power play while the Gophers were 0 for 2. The Gophers blocked 20 shots vs 7 for the Huskies which is an indication of the amount of time the Huskies spent in the Gophers defensive zone. SCSU won 31 of the faceoffs vs 24 for the Gophers.
The loss was only the third of the season for the Huskies giving them a 13-3-3 record heading into a conference series with Western Michigan in St. Cloud next weekend.
Stars of the Game: #1 Robson (UMN) #2 Romank (UMN) #3 Hrenak (SCSU)