MANKATO, Minn. — If Minnesota State was beginning to doubt itself because of its 0-4 start, the Mavericks didn’t show it Friday night. The Mavericks’ offense exploded to score six goals against No. 5 North Dakota and received a 34-save performance from Junior goaltender Todd Kelzenberg to upset the Fighting Sioux, 6-2.
The Mavericks started the game strong and carried the pressure throughout the game to record their first win of the season. MSU was led by Junior Nate Mauer, who tallied a goal and two assists, and Kelzenberg, who stopped 34 of the 36 shots he faced.
The win was not only the first of the season for the Mavericks, but also first for first-year coach Troy Jutting. Jutting, who was promoted from assistant coach after Don Brose retired last season, said, “It feels good to win, and it feels good to win against a team of that quality.
“It’s nice to get the first win and get it out of the way, but it’s only one win, and we want to win a lot of hockey games this year.”
Mankato came out strong with heavy forechecking, which led to its first goal, at 9:40 of the first period. Junior Josh Kern made a pretty play behind the UND net to evade the Sioux defense and passed the puck to sophomore center B.J. Abel. Abel one-timed the pass, which deflected off a Sioux defenseman and slid between North Dakota goalie Karl Goehring’s legs. Mauer added one of his two assists for the night on that play.
The Sioux came back and thought they scored less than a minute later. Sophomore Kevin Spiewak finished off a 3-on-2 rush by blowing the puck past Kelzenberg. However, Kelzenberg was interferred with by North Dakota’s Bryan Lundbohm, and the goal was called off. The Sioux and the Mavericks fought the rest of the first period closely, with the Mavericks leading in shots 11-9.
The beginning of the second period was no different for the Mavericks as they tallied again 5:15 into the period. Senior Peter Holoien carried the puck across the Sioux blue line and drew the Sioux defenseman to him. He then passed to freshman Tim Jackman, who fired the puck under Goehring’s arm to make the score 2-0. The goal was Jackman’s third of the year.
After killing off a 30-second 5-on-3 chance, the Mavericks seemed to be in control of the game. However, the Sioux weren’t ready to give up. With 6:16 left in the second, UND’s Jason Notermann deflected a slap shot from defenseman Chad Mazurak underneath Kelzenberg to shorten the Mavericks’ lead to one goal. That was the closest North Dakota would get.
Just as the ice started to tip in UND’s favor, MSU’s Jesse Rooney came through with a demoralizing goal 16:22 into the second period. Benefiting from tough work in the corner by Abel, Rooney accepted a pass and beat Goerhing up high above his shoulders. That made the score 3-1.
The Mavericks put the game out of reach 38 seconds into the third period. With UND’s David Hale off for roughing, MSU’s Josh Kern made a diving effort to get the puck on goal while being taken down on a breakaway. Goehring stopped the initial shot, and Abel’s rebound attempt hit the post, but Mauer was there to put the puck in the net. It was his first goal of the season. He leads the Mavericks with one goal and eight assists for the season.
North Dakota never gave up in the game. After MSU scored a shorthanded goal to make the score 5-1, senior Jeff Panzer let a wrist shot fly from the top of the face-off circle to beat Kelzenberg on the power play. North Dakota finished 1-for-6 on the power play, while MSU finished 1-for-3. Panzer leads his team with 10 points in seven games.
Kelzenberg, playing for injured starter Eric Pateman, played exceptionally well from there on to keep UND from scoring again. The MSU goalie made a key kick save on UND’s Notermann, who was left alone in front, with four minutes left in the game. MSU sustained pressure throughout the third period and added an empty-net goal from junior Justin Martin to make the final score 6-2.
“I’m very happy with Todd, and I’m very happy for Todd,” Jutting said. “I thought he played very well, made all the saves he should have made, and a few that you don’t probably make most of the time. He’s played very well, and he’s prepared very well too.”
Kelzenberg credited the defensemen for much of his victory. “Even last weekend, even though we didn’t win, my defensemen have played great,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of shots against lately, but I’ve seen them all. There clearing out the rebounds for me too.”
North Dakota coach Dean Blais called his team’s play “sporadic.”
“We had enough shots on net, but we didn’t get a lot of bounces,” he said. “They [MSU] worked hard and they deserved to win. We had a chance to make plays in our own zone at times, we couldn’t get the puck out of the zone, and we were running around on defense.”
MSU had a reason to be nervous with a 3-1 lead going into the third period. They led with the same score at Wisconsin last Saturday, and they lost in overtime, 4-3. Jutting said the difference was that the team learned, and it kept the pressure on.
The victory over the defending NCAA champions was also the first home game for the Mavericks. They won in front of a crowd of 4,077. The two teams will play again Saturday night in the Midwest Wireless Civic Center at 7:05.