Thanks in large part to Mat Robson, Darian Romanko and a successful video review, the Gophers men's hockey team beat the nation's top-ranked team.
Robson made 34 saves for a shutout, Romanko scored a third-period goal and the review overturned a St. Cloud State goal as the Gophers beat the Huskies 2-0 on Sunday night at 3M Arena at Mariucci. Mike Szmatula scored an empty-net goal with 39 seconds left for Minnesota.
The victory ended Minnesota's five-game losing streak against its in-state rival, a team that Gophers coach Don Lucia called the best he's seen this year after the Huskies' 5-2 win on Saturday in St. Cloud.
The No. 10-ranked Gophers (13-10-1) gave a much more-inspired effort Sunday against the deep Huskies (13-3-3), killing off three penalties and playing tight defense.
Romanko scored an unassisted goal 3:10 into the third period, beating Huskies goalie David Hrenak on a snap shot from between the circles and giving the Gophers a 1-0 lead.
Robson was sharp all game, with nine saves in the first period, 10 in the second and 15 in the third, when the Huskies applied tremendous pressure. St. Cloud State outshot the Gophers 34-21.
Late in the second period, St. Cloud State appeared to take a 1-0 lead when Mikey Eyssimont beat a screened Robson at 16:55. Originally, the play was reviewed for a player in the crease, but the goal was called good. But the Gophers successfully challenged for too many men on the ice, and the goal was waved off. Per NCAA rules, the Huskies did not receive a penalty for too many men as a result of the video review.
The Gophers went on the power play 12 seconds into the game when Romanko was tripped by Judd Peterson. But the Huskies killed the penalty, allowing no shots as the Gophers' power-play drought reached 0-for-26.
Five minutes into the first, Minnesota got the game's first two shots in tight, but Hrenak made both saves. Casey Mittelstadt then was in alone, but Hrenak denied him, too.
The Gophers controlled play early in the first, with St. Cloud State not registering a shot on goal until 12:19 remained in the period. The Huskies began to apply pressure midway through the period, but Robson was solid. A turnover behind the Gophers net gave the Huskies a scoring chance, but Robson made a save in front of the net on a Jack Poehling shot. The sophomore then denied Blake Lizotte from inside the right circle.
Tyler Sheehy and Brannon McManus had scoring chances with a little more than six minutes left in the first, but Hrenak made both saves. The freshman, who played for Slovakia in the World Junior Championship, also stopped a Brent Gates Jr. stuff-in attempt at his right post.
The Gophers got a power play with 2:49 left in the first when Jack Ahcan tripped Leon Bristedt, but the Huskies killed it, allowing only one shot. The period ended scoreless with the Gophers leading 10-9 in shots on goal.
The tight defensive game continued in the second period, with St. Cloud State getting two shots on goal to the Gophers' one in the first five minutes. The Huskies, however, were spending most of the time in the Minnesota zone.
Your three 's of the game:— Minnesota M Hockey (@GopherHockey) January 8, 2018
: David Hrenak (19 saves for SCSU)
: Darian Romanko (GWG)
: Mat Robson (34 save shutout)#PrideOnIce
St. Cloud State got its first power play with 10:35 left in the second when Sheehy was called for tripping. But Minnesota killed the penalty, with Robson making two saves on Jack Poehling.
The Huskies went back on the power play with 7:17 left in the second when Ryan Lindgren got two minutes for elbowing Eyssimont. The Gophers killed that penalty off, too.
Minnesota had a great scoring chance with less than five minutes left in the second when Mittelstadt sent the puck wide of a yawning net.
With 7:28 left in the third, the Gophers' Tyler Nanne was called for interference, but the Minnesota kill made it 3-for-3. From there, Minnesota hung on.
This article is written by Randy Johnson from Star Tribune and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.