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Minnesota Hockey: Gophers lose 3-2, split series with Mavericks

The Gophers head into the bye week with a 3-1 record after giving up first period lead

Brad Rempel

After the Minnesota Gopher hockey team took a 1-0 lead through one period, a late tally in the final frame and a major penalty kill in the second period by the Minnesota State Mavericks costed the Gophers in their 3-2 loss.

The Gophers couldn’t capitalize on the 5-on-3 power play, swinging the momentum in the Mavericks favor. Minnesota State scored twice — once in the second and the other in the third — after killing off the penalty before the Gophers responded.

The Gophers went 0-for-3 on the man advantage despite 10 shots, which was among the reasons why they fell short of beating the Mavericks two nights in a row.

Head coach Bob Motzko said their defense was good, but the forwards didn’t do enough in the first loss of the season for the Gophers, who now sit 3-1.

“We were trying to fight through it, you saw the momentum change after the five minute penalty...their older guys really started to press hard,” Motzko said. “Our (defense) handled it, but I was disappointed in our forwards tonight. We needed a little more bite tonight out of our forwards.”

Mason Nevers found the back of the net in the third period on an easy tap in to tie the game after a strong passing sequence.

It was Charlie Strobel’s first collegiate point while Ryan Johnson added his team-leading fifth assist on the goal.

“It’s definitely different losing a lot of guys, but comfortability is there and we got a lot of good young guys who are working hard and are buying into the system early as you can see,” Nevers said of being one of the older players. “And it’s pretty easy to help lead a good group of guys.”

But the Mavericks scored with six minutes left in the game, and the Gophers had no response.

“I feel like we kind of fell asleep at times after that five minute kill that they had, momentum definitely shifted, the place kind of got rocking, but (it was) definitely another learning experience, you can only control so much,” Nevers said.

Jimmy Snuggerud’s fantastic weekend, looking ahead

Snuggerud, who completed a hat trick a night earlier, scored his fourth goal of the season — assisted by Rhett Pitlick and Jackson LaCombe. Snuggerud sniped the puck from the left circle and found room top shelf on the blocker side, beating Keenan Rancier for the fourth time this weekend.

After linemates Logan Cooley and Pitlick shined in last weekend’s series against Lindenwood, Snuggerud was due for his moment — and then some.

And although the Gophers came up short, it’s a good learning experience for the young team, who played their first game of the year on the road against a team like Minnesota State.

“We weren’t able to do that, came up a little short and a lot of these young guys will now know what it takes to do that,” Nevers said.

The Gophers now head into the bye week with a 3-1 record after splitting the series with Mankato before they face the University of North Dakota in a series at home on Oct. 21-22.

“It was a good weekend for us as long as we learn from it and get better,” Motzko said.