EAST LANSING, Mich. -- There’s something that just seems to click when Minnesota Gophers goalie Jared Moe comes to the state of Michigan.
In November he posted his first Big Ten win at the University of Michigan, and on Saturday night, Jan. 11, he posted 28 saves for his first collegiate shutout as the Gophers won 2-0 at Michigan State.
“I’m starting to like this state a lot, when I come here and win every time,” Moe joked outside the happy Gophers locker room. “I don’t really have words to explain it, just a good feeling to get the first (shutout) out of the way and hopefully many more.”
Moe’s work between the pipes, along with an early goal by Scott Reedy and an empty-net goal by Ben Meyers gave the Gophers (8-10-4 overall, 3-5-4-3 Big Ten) their third win in four games, and their first of 2020.
“We responded tonight, and that’s what we needed to do,” Gophers coach Bob Motzko said, noting the difference between the win and Friday night’s 4-1 loss. “It was as physical as last night, except we joined the party. We weren’t in the party last night. We stuck our nose in all night tonight.”
In sharp contrast to Friday’s series opener, in which the Gophers fell behind early and didn’t recover, they were the offensive aggressors right from the start one night later. Just 100 seconds into the game Reedy delivered his team-leading 10th goal of the season when he beat Spartans goalie John Lethemon low on the stick side. After a long lead pass from defenseman Ben Brinkman, Reedy and Bryce Brodzinski came into the Spartans zone on a 2-on-1 break. Reedy glanced toward Brodzinski to get Lethemon anticipating a pass, then ripped a low shot past the goalie.
“Brinkman made a nice pass and Brodzinski did a nice job of jumping up in the play,” Reedy said. “Unfortunately he didn’t get a touch on it but I saw my spot and knew I was shooting it. I used him kind of as a decoy and put it home.”
Both teams had chances in the second period, with Michigan State right winger Brody Stevens and Gophers right winger Brannon McManus both hitting the post on the same shift, about 10 seconds apart. The Gophers penalty killers got a stiff test late in the second, when consecutive tripping penalties gave the Spartans 61 seconds of 5-on-3 advantage, but Minnesota made it to the second intermission unscathed.
The Spartans got a third period breakaway, but Logan Lambdin failed to get a clean shot at the net, with Moe -- known for his big frame -- taking away much of his view.
“He was big-bodied and stayed in front, and we played in front of him tonight too,” Motzko said of Moe, who is now 4-4-1. “The big save was the breakaway there in the third period...thank goodness he was on top of that.”
With the third period clock winding down and Lethemon on the bench for an extra attacker, Meyers flipped a puck from the red line past the Spartans defense to Jonny Sorenson, who was just crossing the blue line. Sorenson looked to tap the puck into the net, but it slipped over the goal line without help, giving Meyers his fourth goal of the season.
Lethemon finished with 20 saves for the Spartans (11-10-1, 7-4-1-0). It was the first shutout recorded by a Gophers goalie since Eric Schierhorn blanked St. Lawrence 3-0 on Nov. 17, 2018.
“There was a little more of a wall at their blue line today than there was last night,” Spartans coach Danton Cole said. “They did a good job with that. We kept trying to stick handle through that, probably a little too much. There was a little bit of frustration with some of the guys.”
The Gophers were scheduled to fly home from East Lansing on Saturday night, but an all-day ice storm in the region prevented their charter flight from arriving, forcing them to spend a third night on the road.
Michigan State 0-0-0—0
First period — 1. MIN, Scott Reedy 10 (Ben Brinkman), 1:40. Penalties — Sampo Ranta, MIN (embellishment), 3:10; Nicholas Muller, MSU (hooking), 3:10; Dennis Cesana, MSU (slashing), 7:01; Brinkman, MIN (slashing), 11:45; Logan Lambdin, MSU (slashing), 11:45; Brody Stevens, MSU (roughing the goalie), 14:30.
Second period — No scoring. Penalties -- Brinkman, MIN (tripping), 16:31, Ryan Zuhlsdorf, MIN (tripping), 17:30.
Third period — 2. MIN, Ben Meyers 4 (unassisted), 18:32, (en). Penalties — Jerad Rosburg, MSU (holding), 10:56; Mitch Lewandowski, MSU (10-minute misconduct), 18:32.
Shots on goal — MIN 7-9-6—22; MSU 11-11-6-28. Goalies — Jared Moe, MIN (28 shots-28 saves); John Lethemon, MSU (22-20). Power plays — MIN 0-of-3; MSU 0-of-2. Referees — Brian Aaron, Steve McInchak. Linesmen — Nick Bet, Justin Cornell. Att. — 5,923.