MANKATO – The Gophers were coming off an embarrassment on their home ice one night earlier when they showed up at a sold-out Verizon Center on Saturday night. The resolve was obvious early and it was rewarded with the game's opening goal a little over five minutes into the game.
Rem Pitlick scored on a power play. Tyler Sheehy made the setup pass and Pitlick unloaded quickly, a shot over the left shoulder of Minnesota State Mankato goalie Mathias Israelsson and dead into the far corner.
Pitlick skated away with the traditional fist pump, and the Gophers were off and … ready to be frustrated. MSU Mankato came back with the two goals in the first 5:06 of the second period and that was it — a 2-1 victory that completed a weekend sweep for the Mavericks.
Their winning goal deflected off Pitlick's skate, and was part of a night when the junior center was among the best players on the ice, and also the player with the most reason for frustration.
Parker Tuomie evened up both the game and the power-play goals for the Mavericks at 3:46 of the second. A minute later, the Gophers went back on a power play. Jake Jaremko came in shorthanded and sent a shot on goal that did not look dangerous. Eric Schierhorn stopped it and left a short rebound. Pitlick went to play the puck to himself, and instead it ricocheted off his skate.
It was 2-1 at 5:06 of the second, and it was still that way at game's end. In addition to bad luck with his skate, Pitlick drilled a pipe from the point on a power play late in the third, and then hit the crossbar as the Gophers scrambled after a tying goal in the final 30 seconds.
"It's unfortunate,'' Pitlick said. "I wanted to tie it there for Eric, after causing that goal against him.''
Gophers coach Bob Motzo was satisfied with the effort put forth after Friday night's 5-1 abomination in Mariucci. What he mentioned several times were that seven penalties prevented the players from getting as much out of their effort as they probably deserved.
"Every year you see one of those fluke goals decide a game,'' Motzko said.
MSU Mankato is now 7-1 and has won six of the past eight vs. Minnesota. The Gophers are now 1-3-1 and will take a three-game losing streak into the start of Big Ten play next weekend at Wisconsin.