EAST LANSING, Mich. – They needed a pair of shorthanded goals, a shot that went in from near center ice and a late goal to do it, but the Gophers ended their five-game Big Ten losing streak with a 5-4 victory over Michigan State on Thursday night in a men’s hockey game at Munn Ice Arena.
Tyler Sheehy and Tommy Novak each scored shorthanded goals in Minnesota’s three-goal second period, and Sheehy scored the winner with 2:48 left in the third period as the Gophers (14-12-1, 5-9-1-1 Big Ten) held off the last-place Spartans (9-15-1, 3-11-1-1). The victory moved the Gophers into a tie with Wisconsin for fifth place in the Big Ten.
“You’ve got to find a way some nights,’’ Gophers coach Don Lucia said. “It was a crazy game — two goals scored from the neutral zone.’’
The Gophers started slowly, with Michigan State’s Mitch Lewandowski grabbing a rebound off the lively end boards and stuffing the puck past Gophers goalie Eric Schierhorn at 6:47 of the first period.
Minnesota tied the score 1-1 at 13:51 on a fortuitous play. Jack Ramsey lobbed a shot from center ice, and the puck hopped past Michigan State goalie John Lethemon.
Steve Johnson gave the Gophers a 2-1 lead on the power play 1:48 into the second.
At 2:08 of the second, Gophers defenseman Clayton Phillips took a five-minute major penalty and game misconduct for checking from behind. The Gophers turned it into an offensive opportunity, with Sheehy and Novak scoring consecutive shorthanded goals on breakaways for a 4-1 lead.
Michigan State, however, rallied, with Taro Hirose cutting it to 4-2 with a shorthanded goal and then 4-3 with an even-strength tally.
Michigan State tied it at 11:57 of the third when Butrus Ghafari’s shot from just inside center ice hit the end boards, rebounded toward the net and caromed in off Schierhorn’s pad.
Sheehy's winning goal with 2:48 left capped a three-point night and gave him 101 points for his career.