Gophers captain Justin Kloos celebrated his 100-game milestone on Friday night at Mariucci Arena with a goal 21 seconds into the first period. Kloos' quick goal jump-started a 5-2 victory against Michigan State and propelled the Gophers to a .500 record at 10-10 on the season.
Junior forward Hudson Fasching, an alternate captain, scored two goals for the second consecutive game and sophomore forward Leon Bristedt had three assists for the Gophers (5-2 Big Ten). Freshman goalie Eric Schierhorn had 17 saves.
"We were joking about it in the room that we don't remember a Gopher team that's scored the first shift, and then obviously right away I was able to get a great pass from a couple teammates and bury it," said Kloos, who has played every game since his freshman season. "It's important [to score early] … but I think it might help a little bit more that it's a captain and a leader."
Kloos was expected to be the centerpiece of this year's Gophers roster, but Friday's goal was only his sixth of the season. His 15 points, including nine assists, are still the third-most on the roster, though he's struggled to find the net through the first 20 games.
The junior set a high bar for himself after scoring 16 goals as a freshman to become the first Gophers rookie to lead the team in goals since 2006-07. As a sophomore, his goal total dropped to 13, and he has a long way to go this season to match his freshman total.
"It's huge [to get Kloos going]. He's the heart of our team," Bristedt said. "He's our captain and there's a lot of pressure on him. I'm really happy to see him scoring."
Friday's goal could be the spark Kloos has been waiting for. His scoring this season has come in streaks. He scored three goals in three games in mid-November. He has now scored goals in two consecutive games as the Gophers will attempt to become a winning team for the first time this season on Saturday.
"Hopefully just continue to find ways to get my chances in," Kloos said about how he intends to be more consistent. "Our line has been pretty solid since the second half of the season as far as generating opportunities."
The Gophers led 4-0 after Fasching scored his second goal 11:36 into the third period before Michigan State ended Schierhorn's shutout attempt. Connor Wood and Villiam Haag each scored for the Spartans (5-16-2, 1-6 Big Ten), who have lost seven games in a row. Jake Bischoff and Ryan Norman also scored for the Gophers.
"Couldn't start the game any better [than] to score on the first shift like that," Gophers coach Don Lucia said.
"[Kloos and Fasching] are the guys. We need them scoring. Like every team, you have three or four key guys that have to score and you look at the game and Fasching and Kloos scored, and Bischoff scored. Some guys we're looking for offense from delivered [Friday], and that's what we have to have."