MANKATO, Minn. — After falling down 2-0 early in the first period, Minnesota State-Mankato came back and scored two power-play goals to defeat Alabama-Huntsville on Friday at the Midwest Wireless Civic Center.
The Mavericks (7-8) were powered by senior Jesse Rooney, who netted two goals, and sophomore defenseman Joe Bourne, who added a goal and an assist.
The Chargers (8-5) came out early and dominated play in the first period, scoring two early goals and taking a 2-1 lead into intermission. But the Mavericks started the second period strong and never let up.
“I think we were a little bit rusty in that first period,” Mankato coach Troy Jutting said. “We didn’t come out with quite the intensity we needed to, but I was very happy with the way we picked it up in the second and third period. We talked about the things we needed to do before the game, and we reinforced them with each other in between periods.”
The first period started off with a goalies’ battle. Maverick goalie Eric Pateman came up with a big stop on Chargers defenseman Tyler Butler, who took a slap shot from the blue line eight minutes into the game. Pateman knocked the puck away with a quick kick save.
It was Chargers goalie Mark Byrne’s turn less than a minute later. MSU-Mankato defenseman Andy Hedlund took a shot from the point, which was deflected by Rooney. Byrne stopped the deflection and pounced on the rebound.
At the 10:59 mark of the first, Butler finally got the puck past Pateman. Right off a faceoff win in the Maverick zone, Butler took a shot from the middle of the blue line which found its way through the screen and underneath the Mankato goaltender to make the score 1-0.
Alabama-Huntsville kept the pressure on and added another goal one minute later. Right after another faceoff win at the right circle, sophomore Joel Bresciani fired the puck on goal. Pateman stopped the initial shot, but the Mankato defense wasn’t able to clear the rebound. Teammate Jason Hawes came in and wristed the puck past Pateman to put the Chargers up 2-0.
The Mavericks started to tilt the ice in their favor later on in the period, and their work paid off with a fluke power-play goal with 1:10 left in the first. Bourne took a shot from the blue line that flew in the air, bounced off Byrne’s head, and fell into the net to cut the Chargers’ lead in half.
“It’s gotta be the luckiest [goal] of my career,” Bourne said. “I just kind of flicked it up there, and I think it went off the goalie’s head. I was just trying to get the puck on net and see what happens.”
The Mavericks kept up their hard work right from the beginning of the second period, but Byrne came up with big saves on Mankato’s Hedlund and Ben Christopherson early in the second to preserve the lead.
The Chargers attempted to make the score 3-1 nine minutes into the period on the power play. Senior Ron Baker passed the puck to a wide-open Hawes in front of the net. Hawes slid across the front of the goal and fired the puck on net. However, Pateman made the best of his 21 saves by stacking his pads and keeping Hawes from getting his second of the game. UAH was 0-for-4 on the power play.
MSU tied the score at 2, 16:34 into the period. Bourne took a shot from the blue line, and Byrne stopped the initial shot. However, Rooney picked up the puck, moved from left to right across the net, and put the puck over the sprawled Charger goalie for his first goal of the game.
“Bourne had a good shot on net, and the goalie wasn’t able to control the rebound,” Rooney said. “It just kind of popped out, and I skated over and got it. Fortunately the goalie went down, and I just put it on net.”
The score remained 2-2 until the Mavericks scored again on the power play 8:35 into the third. Senior T.J. Guidarelli passed the puck from the corner to teammate Jerry Cunningham, who was left all alone in the slot. Cunningham one-timed the puck through the five-hole for the eventual game winner. MSU finished 2-for-8 on the power play.
MSU-Mankato padded its lead with Rooney’s second of the night less than four minutes later. With the teams skating four-on-four, Mankato’s B.J. Abel took a slap shot from just inside the blue line. His shot went just left of the net, but it bounced back from the boards to Rooney, who backhanded the puck past Byrne. The goal was Rooney’s ninth of the season.
Alabama-Huntsville had a golden opportunity to cut into the Mavericks’ lead with 3:35 left in the game. After Mankato’s Nate Mauer was caught for using an illegal stick and Hedlund was called for roughing, the Chargers pulled their goalie for a 6-on-3 man advantage. However, the Maverick defensemen were able to block numerous shots and kept UAH from finding the back of the net.
Alabama-Huntsville assistant coach Lance West said the Mavericks started to take over the game after the first goal.
“That late goal gave them a little momentum I think, and they came out really flying,” West said. “Our guys just seemed to not get their legs moving. We got back on our heels and let them come at us, and they have some offensive ability.”
When asked about the amount of penalties the Chargers took, West said, “We need a little more discipline.”