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Ryan Sandelin's late goal completes Mavs' comeback as Gophers lose their first of the season

Minnesota State Mankato killed a major penalty and took over the momentum in the second period of its non-conference game with the Minnesota Gophers, rallying for a 3-2 win.

Minnesota State Mankato winger Will Hillman battled Minnesota defenders Cal Thomas (left) and Ryan Johnson (right) for the puck during the Mavericks 3-2 win over the Gophers on Saturday, October 8, 2022 at Mayo Clinic Health System Event Center in Mankato, Minn.
Mansoor Ahmad / MSU Athletics

MINNEAPOLIS — In a game of momentum swings, the team in purple caught the last wave of the night, and salvaged a split.

Ryan Sandelin blasted a low shot past Minnesota goalie Justen Close late in the third period on Saturday, lifting Minnesota State Mankato to a 3-2 come-from-behind win, and handing the Gophers their first loss of the season.

Jimmy Snuggerud and Mason Nevers scored for the Gophers, who got 30 saves from Close, but fell to 3-1-0 overall, heading into a bye weekend.

“We were OK tonight. OK ain’t gonna cut it in a game like this, but we were OK,” Gophers coach Bob Motzko said.

The Mavericks (1-1-0) got goals from Sandelin, Josh Groll and Campbell Cichosz as well as 25 saves from Keenan Rancier in the win, after they had fallen 4-1 in game one of the home-and-home series.


“I thought the guys banded together and we saw some guys make some significant steps in their short career in Cichosz and (freshman center Christian) Fitzgerald,” said Mavericks coach Mike Hastings. “And then one of our leaders from a year ago and this year, Sandelin, had an outstanding game, scores a really big goal. That's a good win for us."

Snuggerud, who recorded his first three career goals in the series opener on Friday in Minneapolis, hit a tiny opening above the Mavericks goalie’s right shoulder after a pass from linemate Rhett Pitlick to open the scoring.

The Gophers had a golden opportunity to extend their lead early in the second period, but MSU killed nearly a minute of 5-on-3 power play, and held Minnesota off the board after David Silye was given a five-minute major penalty for checking from behind.

The Mavericks grabbed the momentum after that, and forged a 1-1 tie when Cichosz slipped a shot through a crowd from the blue line for his first career goal. On the final shift of the second period, Logan Cooley was stopped by Rancier on the doorstep, then crumpled to the ice after a tie-up with a Mavericks player at the horn. He was helped from the ice, appearing to favor his right leg. Officials reviewed the play but said there was no penalty, and Cooley returned to play the third period.

Minnesota forward Logan Cooley's rush to the net was thwarted by Minnesota State Mankato goalie Keenan Rancier in the second period of a game between the Gophers and Mavericks at Mayo Clinic Health System Event Center in Mankato, Minn., on Saturday, October 8, 2022.
Mansoor Ahmad / The Rink Live

The teams traded goals 61 seconds apart in the third, with MSU taking its first lead of the series, and Nevers re-tying the game on the next shift.

“It started with a great play by (Jaxon Nelson) on the backcheck,” Nevers said. “He kind of pickpocketed a guy in the neutral zone and we had three guys going for a nice little 3-on-1. (Charlie Strobel) and (Ryan Johnson) had a little ying and yang and Strobes found the back door and I probably did the least of the work.”

It was the first goal of the season for Nevers, and the ninth of his career.

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See you again in the spring?

In 2021 the Mavericks beat Minnesota 4-0 in the finale of the Loveland Regional and ended the Gophers’ season a game shy of the Frozen Four. Last season the teams met in Boston in the NCAA semifinal, with the Mavericks prevailing again.

After MSU raised a banner for that Frozen Four trip and then rallied to beat Minnesota for the fifth time in their past six meetings, at least one Gopher said he would be fine meeting the Mavericks again in the NCAAs.

“That’s the plan. I know there was a lot of talk going around in the handshake line just knowing that we could definitely see each other in the future,” Nevers said.

The pendulum swings

As happens so often in hockey, a major penalty changed the tide of the game. The Gophers were up 1-0 and controlling play when MSU’s Silye was ejected for a hit along the boards. The Gophers got five shots on the ensuing extended power play but did not score. When the Mavericks were back to five skaters on the ice, the crowd roared, and the home team started dominating the play.

“You saw the momentum change after the five-minute penalty. You see that in hockey all the time, especially on the road,” Motzko said. “(MSU) only had eight shots on goal at that point and then the crowd turned and their older guys really started to press hard.”

MSU tied it up before the end of the period and took the lead twice in the third.

“We didn't get off to the start we were looking for. I thought last night started a little bit better, but I thought we stuck with it,” Hastings said. “There were a lot of reasons, whether it was the first goal, whether it's the five-minute major, to go to the excuse squad, and we didn't do that.”


Extra pucks

Healthy scratches for the Gophers included defensemen Matt Staudacher and Carl Fish, and forwards Colin Schmidt and John Mittelstadt.

The Gophers have the Oct. 14-15 weekend off, then host North Dakota for two games in Minneapolis on Oct. 21-22.

Minnesota State forward Josh Groll (left) scored his first goal of the season on Minnesota goalie Justen Close in the third period of the Mavericks 3-2 win over the Gophers on Saturday, October 8, 2022 at Mayo Clinic Health System Event Center in Mankato, Minn.
Mansoor Ahmad / MSU Athletics

Minnesota State 3, Minnesota 2

Minnesota 1-0-1—2

Minn State 0-1-2—3

First period — 1. MIN, Jimmy Snuggerud 4 (Rhett Pitlick, Jackson LaCombe), 15:31. Penalties — Aaron Huglen, MIN (tripping), 5:15; Connor Kurth, MIN (hooking), 12:46; Ryan Sandelin, MSU (roughing), 16:24.

Second period — 2. MSU, Campbell Cichosz 1 (Ondrej Pavel), 14:38. Penalties — Tony Malinowski, MSU (hooking), 1:33; David Silye, MSU (5 & game misconduct – checking from behind), 2:40.


Third period — 3. MSU, Josh Groll 1 (Pavel, Jake Livingstone), 4:17. 4. MIN, Mason Nevers 1 (Charlie Strobel, Ryan Johnson), 5:18. 5. MSU, Sandelin 1 (Sam Morton, Christian Fitzgerald), 14:02. Penalties — Jaxon Nelson, MIN (tripping), 1:15; Nelson, MIN (boarding), 8:29.

Shots on goal — MIN 7-15-5—27; MSU 7-12-14—33. Goalies — Justen Close, MIN (33 shots-30 saves); Keenan Rancier, MSU (27-25). Power plays — MIN 0-of-3, MSU 0-of-4. Referees — Tony Czech, Rick Nelson. Linesmen — Matt Tyree, Eric Standke. Att. — 4,911.

Minnesota State Mankato defenseman Campbell Cichosz celebrated scoring his first collegaite goal during the Mavericks 3-2 win over the Gophers on Saturday, October 8, 2022 at Mayo Clinic Health System Event Center in Mankato, Minn.
Mansoor Ahmad / MSU Athletics
Minnesota State defenseman Jake Livingstone and Minnesota forward Matthew Knies battled for position during the Mavericks 3-2 win over the Gophers on Saturday, October 8, 2022 at Mayo Clinic Health System Event Center in Mankato, Minn.
Mansoor Ahmad / MSU Athletics

Jess Myers covers college hockey, as well as outdoors, general sports and travel, for The Rink Live and the Forum Communications family of publications. He came to FCC in 2018 after three decades of covering sports as a freelancer for a variety of publications, while working full time in politics and media relations. A native of Warroad, Minn. (the real Hockeytown USA), Myers has a degree in journalism/communications from the University of Minnesota Duluth. He lives in the Twin Cities. Contact Jess via email at jrmyers@forumcomm.com, or find him on Twitter via @JessRMyers. English speaker.
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