Third-Period Surge Leads No. 19 Spartans Past Minnesota, 4-2

Michigan State University
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MINNEAPOLIS – Trailing 2-1 entering the third period, the 19th-ranked Michigan State hockey team scored three unanswered goals for 4-2 win over Minnesota on Saturday night at 3M Arena at Mariucci. Dennis Cesana tied the game on the power play at the 5:04 mark, while Butrus Ghafari’s deflection with 9:59 to go gave MSU (14-13-1, 10-7-1-0) the lead for good. Brody Stevens gave the Spartans some cushion as he made it 4-2 with 6:53 to play.

“That was pretty exciting,” said MSU head coach Danton Cole. “We were having a hard time finding our game and you give Minnesota a lot of credit. They came out flying in the beginning. I thought the second period was a little better and the guys came out pretty determined and got a little bit of a forecheck going finally and we got a couple pucks to go in.

“It was a lot of fun and very exciting for our guys.”

The Spartan rally started with the help of a pair of power plays to start the third period. MSU had chances on its first and then cashed in on the second man-advantage. Mitchell Lewandowski and Jerad Rosburg set up Cesana in the middle of the blue line where he hammered a low one-timer past goaltender Jerad Moe to tie the game, 2-2.

The goal energized the Spartans as they sustained pressure in the Minnesota end. Less than five minutes after the tying goal, Ghafari got his stick on a Tommy Miller point shot, deflecting the puck into the net for a 3-2 lead with 9:59 to go.

MSU continued to control the play and keep the puck in the Minnesota end. With 6:53 to go, Brody Stevens got a loose puck at the top of the crease and slid it past Moe for a 4-2 Spartan advantage.

The Spartans wound up outshooting Minnesota by a count of 15-6 in the game-changing third period.

“Tonight was a big win for the guys in the room,” said Cole.

Scott Reedy gave Minnesota (13-11-4, 8-6-4-3) a 1-0 lead with 4:22 to play in the opening period. The Spartans got caught in an odd-man situation as Reedy carried the puck into the MSU zone and scored on a snap shot from near the top of the circles.
Michigan State tied the game with 4:24 to go in the second period as Patrick Khodorenko scored his team-leading 15th goal of the season. From the Spartan end, Rosburg hit Logan Lambdin with a pass down the left side. Lambdin carried the puck down to the left circle where he let go a shot that bounced off Moe and out to Khodorenko, who quickly batted it into the net with 4:24 to go in the period.

Unfortunately, a late goal off a rebound reclaimed the lead for the Gophers with 1:48 to go in the middle period. After a shot from the right point by Tyler Nanne, Blake McLaughlin was in front and able to collect the loose puck and sweep it past Lethemon.

Minnesota finished with a 38-35 edge in shots on goal.

MSU killed all three Minnesota power plays, including two in the second period to keep it a one-goal game.

Michigan State will next face Michigan on Friday at Munn at 6 p.m. The two teams will meet again on Monday, Feb. 17 at Little Caesars Arena in the annual Duel in the D.