It wasn't necessarily pretty, but the Minnesota Golden Gophers hockey team managed to escape East Lansing with a point this weekend, as they got themselves a 4-4 tie with the Michigan State Spartans on Saturday night at the Munn Ice Arena.
The Gophers fell behind early in this one, as the only goal of the first period was scored by Michigan State's Brock Shelgren at the 11:49 mark of the first period of play. Minnesota drew even less than five minutes into the second period, however, on an unassisted tally by.
Michigan State took the lead back with two more goals, the first coming from Mike Merrifield, and the other coming from Matt Crandall. That gave the Spartans a 3-1 lead with a little more than five minutes remaining in the second period, but Minnesota cut into that lead thanks to a power play goal from Erik Haula at the 16:45 mark of the frame. It was the first time that Haula had found the back of the net in nearly a month.
Haula's goal marked the first of three unanswered tallies for the Golden Gophers, stretching between the second and third periods. Minnesota tied things up at the 4:28 mark of the third period on a goal by Zach Budish, and then took their first lead of the entire weekend less than three minutes later thanks to Kyle Rau's tenth goal of the season, pushing the Gophers ahead 4-3.
Unfortunately, the lead was short-lived, as Michigan State's Daultan Leveille put one past Kent Patterson less than two minutes later, tying the score at four. That was all she wrote as far as the scoring on the evening, as both goalies held up the rest of the way. The Gophers had a power play opportunity that spanned between the end of the third period and the beginning of overtime, but couldn't solve Michigan State goaltender Drew Palmisano, and the game ended in a tie.
Palmisano, Merrifield, and Haula were named the three stars of the game. It's worth noting that the Gophers' four goals all came from players that are either freshmen or sophomores, a promising sign for the youth movement taking place for Don Lucia's squad.
The tie gives Minnesota a record of 11-4-1 overall, and they are still on top of the WCHA standings. Michigan State goes to 8-5-1 on the season.
Minnesota will play their next seven games in the friendly confines of Mariucci Arena, starting next weekend when they host the Minnesota State Mavericks.