Minnesota State physically slowed down the top-ranked Gophers for 50 minutes on the road at Mariucci Arena. Unfortunately for the Mavericks, Michael Shibrowski shut them down all 60.
The senior goaltender, making his first start since October 19, 2012, made 25 saves Saturday as Minnesota (8-1-1, 0-0-0 Big Ten) defeated in-state rival Minnesota State 3-0 in non-conference action.
Freshman defenseman Jake Bischoff (New York Islanders draft pick), senior forward Tom Serratore and freshman forward Hudson Fasching (Los Angeles Kings) scored for the Gophers, but the story of the game was the player in net for the Maroon and Gold.
"I think it starts with Shibby tonight. This was his night," University of Minnesota head coach Don Lucia said about his goalie, whose start broke Adam Wilcox's 47 game streak. "He's a tremendous teammate. He's a guy who hasn't played much. He works as hard as anyone on our team. He stays after practice taking shots. The guys were excited for him tonight and I thought they would be.
"I thought we played like a better, tighter defense in front of him tonight."
The Mavericks, however, nearly got to Shibrowski early. A couple miscues in net between defensemen gave Minnesota State (4-6-0, 2-2-0 WCHA) good chances. While Bischoff, scoring his 3rd goal of the season 6:20 into the game, was the recipient of open space in the slot caused by a Kyle Rau (Florida Panthers) hit, the Mavericks nearly tied it up five minutes later.
Bryce Gervais sat in front of the net had a rebound go off him and into the net. After a review, however, the refs overturned the call on ice when replays showed what both players already knew: Gervais had punched the puck in off his mitts.
The no-goal was the second time in three games between the teams that had happened - Johnny McInnis did it last season - and like then the no-goal caused a swing in momentum.
"It was good for our team. If they would have gotten 1-1 it would have been a different game," Shibrowski said. "Being up 1 going into the second was good for us."
Still, the game stayed 1-0 until the middle of the third period. A lot had to do with how Minnesota State played. The Mavericks continued playing physical from last night, hitting bodies and kept Minnesota out of freshman goaltender Cole Huggins' way.
"We needed to have some pushback tonight. I thought last night the time and space we gave them in the first period allowed them to play keepaway," Minnesota State head coach Mike Hastings said about his team's gameplan. "Tonight we wanted to play a little more aggressively and I thought we were more in the game. We had more opportunities and limited theirs early."
But Huggins, who made 33 saves, was unable to stop Serratore's rebound goal with 8:55 remaining. The goal, Serratore's first in 17 games, was a back-breaker for Minnesota State and Fasching added his sixth goal in 10 games less than 3 minutes later.
One thing that helped get the last two goals was Lucia moving Travis Boyd (Washington Capitals) with last year's linemates Serratore and Seth Ambroz (Columbus Blue Jackets); making it a 3 line game for the final ten minutes.
"(Serratore and the third line) didn't have much scoring opportunities last night. They don't need to score every night but they have to chip in," Lucia said. "Tom scored a goal. He doesn't get a lot but he gets big goals.
"It's nice to see a guy like that rewarded with a good goal."
At the end of the game, the 9,838 in attendance were hoping (and got) a clean sheet to go along with the sweep. It was Shibrowski's first career shutout in a career that has seen the Andover, MN native sit in favor of Kent Patterson and Adam Wilcox (Tampa Bay Lightning). He made the most of his opportunity Saturday, which came a day after his 23rd birthday.
"I guess I owe the guys for that," he said. "One of the better presents I've gotten."
Minnesota next hosts Minnesota-Duluth on Friday and Saturday. Both games begin at 7 p.m. CT and air on FSN+. Minnesota State returns to WCHA play next weekend when the Mavericks travel to Bowling Green.
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Nathan Wells is a college hockey columnist for SB Nation and College Hockey News. You can also follow him on Twitter -- Follow @gopherstate