Gophers earn first road sweep of Spartans since 1978-79

Courtesy @GopherHockey via Twitt

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Grand Rapids, Mich., native Brent Gates Jr. picked up the game winner for the No. 11 Gopher Hockey program as Minnesota rallied for its second 4-2 road win in as many days against Michigan State on Saturday night.

This weekend's pair of 4-2 wins gives the Maroon & Gold its first road sweep against the Spartans since the 1978-79 season. In addition to Gates' game winner, Minnesota picked up goals from Jake Bischoff, Rem Pitlick and Tyler Sheehy.

The Gophers (9-5-2 overall, 3-1-0-0 Big Ten) dug themselves into a hole early and then worked hard find their way out of it.

For the second night in a row, the Spartans struck first with a goal from JT Stenglein at 16:09 of the first period before Thomas Ebbing made it a two-goal lead at 6:13 of the second. Minnesota's defense and sophomore goaltender Eric Schierhorn shut the door after that however.

Minnesota broke through at the halfway point for the contest when Bischoff fired home an unassisted tally from the point at 10:03 of the second for his third goal of the year. The goal marked his 50th career point with Minnesota, but the senior defenseman wasn't done. Just over three minutes later, he and Justin Kloos set up Pitlick's power-play blast at 13:33 of the second stanza. Both Bischoff and Pitlick ended goal droughts that dated back to the season opener — a 6-0 win at Alaska Anchorage on Oct. 7.

Minnesota's power play kept clicking in the third period as Gates found the net for the eventual game winner — his sixth of the year — at 11:14. Leon Bristedt and Steve Johnson tallied assists on the goal as Minnesota ended the night 2-for-3 on the power play and 2-for-2 on the penalty kill.

And just like Friday's series opener, the Maroon & Gold picked up an empty-net goal to seal the win — this time with Tyler Sheehy scoring his team-high 11th goal of the year at 19:23. Sheehy has now tallied a point in eight-straight games and a goal in five-straight games — both are career long stretches. Kloos picked up his second assist of the night on the goal while Ryan Collins also earned an assist.

Minnesota outshot the Spartans 34-19 in the win while Schierhorn made 17 saves to move to 9-5-2 on the year.

Minnesota returns to action with the 26th annual Mariucci Classic, Dec. 30-31, with the Gophers hosting Mercyhurst, Alabama Huntsville and Massachusetts.