MINNEAPOLIS – If the Minnesota Golden Gophers intend to make a run at the NCAA Tournament in the second half of the season, they can’t afford too many more tough losses.
After the latest loss on Saturday night at 3M Arena at Mariucci, a 3-2 defeat to a Ferris State team that had previously been winless on the road, Minnesota needs to figure out what to do to turn their season around as they head back into conference play.
“That [loss] hurts,” Gophers head coach Bob Motzko said. “We had plenty of chances. You give their goaltender a lot of credit tonight. We missed the net far too many times.”
Being unable to hold their own on the defensive side of special teams didn’t exactly help the Gophers out, either.
“We let them hang around, and we did a very poor job on the penalty kill,” Motzko said.
Minnesota is now a disappointing 3-4-1 in nonconference play with home losses to St. Lawrence (#57 in the Pairwise) and Ferris State (#55 in the Pairwise) standing out. Just one more nonconference series remains for the Gophers, and that comes against the surprising Arizona State Sun Devils in early March to end the regular season.
Corey Mackin scored the first and last goals of the game for the Bulldogs, who finally earned their first road victory after losing their first nine. Craig Pefley had two more assists, giving him five for the weekend. A Coale Norris goal in the third period was the only FSU goal of the weekend that he didn’t have a helper on.
The lone goal of the first period came off the stick of Brent Gates, who in similar fashion to his goal on Friday sniped home a one-time blast from the right circle on a power play.
Ferris State tied the game when Mackin poked a loose puck past Schierhorn, but Minnesota responded less than two minutes later on a goal by Nathan Burke.
The Bulldogs knotted the game at 2 early in the third period as Norris tipped a Lucas Finner shot top-shelf over Schierhorn, and Mackin later added another power-play goal for the game-winner.
Roni Salmenkangas had an outstanding game in net for Ferris State, nabbing 44 Minnesota shots to earn the win. Schierhorn had 30 saves for the Gophers.
Minnesota resumes Big Ten action next week when Penn State visits for a weekend series. Meanwhile, Ferris State goes on the road to take on WCHA foe Alabama-Huntsville.
MINN power-play goal at 5:22: Brent Gates (6). Assisted by Tommy Novak (6) and Rem Pitlick (9).
FSU power-play goal at 13:13: Corey Mackin (6). Assisted by Jason Tackett (7) and Craig Pefley (7).
MINN power-play goal at 15:09: Nathan Burke (3). Assisted by Tyler Sheehy (8) and Novak (7).
FSU goal at 1:47: Coale Norris (5). Assisted by Lucas Finner (1) and Frankie Melton (5).
FSU power-play goal at 11:20: Corey Mackin (7). Assisted by Pefley (7) and Nate Kallen (14).
Power plays: Both teams 2-4.
Shots on goal: FSU 33, MINN 46.