There was, as the saying goes, a lot to unpack from the Gophers men's hockey team's game against Arizona State on Monday night at 3M Arena at Mariucci. The nonconference contest featured:
• Minnesota starting someone other than Jack LaFontaine in goal for the first time this season, with Jared Moe getting the nod.
• The top-ranked Gophers taking a two-goal first-period lead.
• The Sun Devils storming back with three second-period goals to take the lead, capped by a lacrosse-style tally that likely gave Gophers fans a bad flashback to Michigan's Mike Legg and the 1996 NCAA West Regional final.
• And, ultimately, a key, two-goal response late in the second by the Gophers that led to a 6-4 victory and series sweep, giving Moe a win in a game full of twists, turns and some snarl between the teams at the end of the first two periods.
"We did a lot of good things out there tonight. We got a lead, we came ready to play tonight, and had a good feel about us," Gophers coach Bob Motzko said. "But I didn't like the penalties we took in the second period. We let them back in the game."
Sampo Ranta tied it 3-3 at 12:44 of the second period, and Blake McLaughlin tipped in the winner at 16:25, with the first of his two goals, giving Minnesota the lead for good. Moe, making his first start since Feb. 8, made 20 saves.
Bryce Brodzinski and Brannon McManus each had a goal and an assist, and Jonny Sorenson also scored for the Gophers.
Minnesota improved to 10-0 and dropped Arizona State to 4-8-2. The Gophers' 12-game winning streak dating to last season is tied for the program's second longest in the modern era (1950 or later), one behind a 13-game run by the 1991-92 squad. The 10-0 start is eclipsed only by the 1939-40 team — featuring John Mariucci as a player — that went 18-0 for the season and won the AAU national championship.
First-period goals by Brodzinski and Sorenson suggested an easy night for the home team, but Arizona State responded in the wild second period with a power-play goal by Wisconsin transfer Sean Dhooghe at 3:26 and a 2-on-1 finish by P.J. Marrocco at 9:40.
Then came Johnny Walker's lacrosse-style goal for a 3-2 Arizona State lead at 11:13. Walker, who had 60 career goals entering the game, corralled a bouncing puck behind the net, ladled it onto his stick blade and deposited it in the upper corner on Moe's stick side.
"You watch it on 'SportsCenter' in highlights, and that's the only time you ever see it," Moe said of the lacrosse goal. "To have it happen to me, it's a mental challenge, for sure. I had to let it go and focus on the next shot."
The Gophers, to their credit, didn't let that goal define the game.
"When you see a goal like that," McLaughlin said, "it lights a fire under you."
Ranta tied it 3-3 by rifling a shot past goalie Cole Brady on a rush. "What a big-time goal by Sampo," Motzko said. "That was a missile."
The Gophers got the lead back 4-3 when Sam Rossini's shot was tipped first by Brodzinski, then by McLaughlin for his first goal of the season. McLaughlin added another in the third that put his team up 6-3.
"It feels pretty good," McLaughlin said. "But more importantly, we got the win."