SOUTH BEND, Ind. — A valiant upset effort by Michigan State hockey in the opening round of the postseason Big Ten tournament fell short against Minnesota.
Junior left wing Sampo Ranta wristed home the game-winning goal at 10:35 of overtime to propel the Golden Gophers to a 2-1 victory over coach Danton Cole’s gritty Spartans on Sunday at Notre Dame's Compton Family Ice Arena.
Despite a 48-save performance by freshman Pierce Charleson, the Spartans, who finished last in the Big Ten regular season, couldn’t make a first-period goal by defenseman Dennis Cesana stand up.
Minnesota (21-6), fourth in the nation, will face the winner of Sunday night's first-round game between No. 6-seed Ohio State and No. 3-seed Michigan.
It was 1-0 Michigan State until Minnesota’s Bryce Brodzinski tied the game at 15:01 of the third period. Ranta’s 17th goal of the season ended it in overtime.
Charleson, a 6-2 freshman from Aurora, Ontario, who had relieved regular goalie Drew DeRidder in the middle of a 4-0 shutout win by Wisconsin on March 5, got his second straight start for the Spartans, who entered the game 1-9 in their last 10 and losers of their last six. Charleson lost 2-1 to Wisconsin at the Munn Ice Arena on March 6.
DeRidder had started 24 games with a 7-15-2 record, but a 2.76 goals-against average and .923 saves percentage had him contending for league goaltending honors. Charleson had played in just six games with two starts, had a 2.81 goals-against average and .931 saves percentage coming into the contest against the Golden Gophers, the fourth-most prolific scoring team in the country with their average of 3.81 goals a game.
The Spartans, meanwhile, entered the game averaging just 1.50 goals per game (50th out of 51st in the country) and had three shutout losses in their last four regular-season games at home — 2-0 and 2-0 to Notre Dame and the shutout to the Badgers.
And the Spartans’ power play was just as dismal, with just four goals in 69 attempts with the man-advantage.
Charleson did his part, turning aside 25 in the first two periods as the Spartans held a 1-0 lead going into the third. Charleson’s teammates also aided his cause, blocking 25 shots, 10 alone in the first period, to Minnesota’s three for the game. The Spartans ended with 28 blocks.
The Spartans took a 1-0 lead at 10:39 of the first period with Minnesota’s Ryan Johnson off the ice for tripping. Senior right wing Mitchell Lewandowski fed a pass to Cesana in the left faceoff circle, and Cesana’s shot into the crease was deflected behind LaFontaine. It was Cesana’s second goal of the season.
In the third period, Minnesota sophomore defenseman Matt Staudacher’s shot hit the post and Charleson reached back to keep the puck from rolling across the goal line at 12:39.
The lead vanished at 15:01 when Brodzinski carried the puck into the zone, circled around the left faceoff dot and fired a 20-footer past Charleson for the goal.
Minnesota dominated the overtime session, outshooting Michigan State, 13-3 through the first 10 minutes. But 35 seconds past the midway point of the period, sophomore right wing Jaxon Nelson found Ranta who went down the slot and beat Charleson to end the upset bid and the Spartans’ season at 7-18-2.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Michigan State hockey falls to Minnesota in Big Ten tourney, 2-1 (OT)