MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - In it's first Friday home game in just under a month, the fifth-ranked Minnesota men's hockey team pulled out a 4-2 win over in-state WCHA foe Minnesota State at Marriucci Arena. After the teams exchanged goals in each of the first two periods, sophomore Erik Haula's third-period power-play tally proved to be the difference.
Entering Friday's contest, the Gophers' senior class was 2-5-1 against Minnesota State and had not beaten the Mavericks in three games on their home ice (0-2-1).
Looking to put a halt to that trend, senior captain Taylor Matson put the Gophers up 1-0 just 1:38 into the game.
After sophomore Nate Condon entered the offensive zone and dropped the puck to Matson, the Mound, Minn.-native unleashed a wrist shot from inside the right circle that went through MSU defenseman Cameron Cooper and Maverick goaltender Austin Lee.
Minnesota State would not allow the Gophers to pull away, though.
Maverick senior defenseman Evan Mosey knotted the score under seven minutes later by snapping a long shot that deflected off a UM defender and past Minnesota netmider Kent Patterson to make it 1-1. It was Mosey's first goal of the season.
The Gophers regained the lead in the second period when another senior got involved in the scoring.
After rookie Travis Boyd dropped the puck to fellow freshman Ben Marshall, Marshall faked a slapshot to throw off an MSU defender before dishing the puck to fourth-year winger Nick Larson. Larson walked in on goal untouched and snuck a shot by Lee just inside the right post.
In similar fashion to the first period, however, Minnesota State was able to tie the game in the middle frame.
With three Gophers and one Maverick down on the ice near the goalmouth after Patterson stopped a Zach Lehrke shot, Jean-Paul Lafontaine collected a loose puck and lifted a shot over the pile of players in front to make it 2-2.
The score remained tied until the Gophers took the lead for good in the third on a howitzer from the point by Haula on the team's fourth power-play try of the night. Nate Schmidt made a nice one-touch pass off a Nick Bjugstad feed to set up Haula's one-timer, which hit a Maverick defender and went over the right shoulder of Lee.
Senior Jake Hansen later capped the scoring by converting on an empty-net shot from the just outside the Minnesota State zone with 36.1 seconds to play.
The 4-2 win was the Gophers' first at Mariucci Arena against MSU since Nov. 10, 2007. The victory also helped Minnesota avenge its last regular-season sweep, which came at the hands of the Mavericks on Dec. 3 and 4, 2010.
The teams will meet again in the series finale at Mariucci Arena on Saturday night at 7.