MANKATO, Minn. — Jesse Rooney says he doesn’t follow the record books and that milestone points don’t mean anything to him, but his four points that put him at 100 for his career couldn’t have come at a better time.
The Minnesota State-Mankato senior tallied a goal and three assists as the Mavericks (14-10-1, 8-8-1 WCHA) beat Minnesota-Duluth (5-18-2, 2-14-1 WCHA) 5-2 Friday night at the Midwest Wireless Civic Center. Mankato won despite several players being sick and losing its captain, Tyler Baines, in the first period due to a shoulder injury.
“I guess it means something,” Rooney said. “I haven’t even thought about it, and I probably won’t until the season is over.”
Rooney also scored his 50th goal this season on Nov. 18 against Alaska-Anchorage.
“Jesse has not only become a good player for us but a leader,” said Mankato coach Troy Jutting. “A couple of guys were sick tonight, and Jesse took it upon himself to go out and make sure we got the goals that we needed to get.”
Even though the Mavericks dominated most of the game, the first period belonged to the Bulldogs. Duluth came out strong and scored early at the 5:07 mark of the first period.
Forward Judd Medak made a nifty pass off the boards to teammate Nate Anderson. Anderson came into the Maverick zone on a 2-on-1 break with winger Mark Carlson. Anderson passed to Carlson, who redirected the puck past Mankato goaltender Eric Pateman.
Minnesota-Duluth had golden opportunities to pad its lead with two consecutive power plays halfway through the first. However, the Mavericks had good penalty kills and Pateman made big saves on Medak and Jon Francisco.
After killing off the penalties, the Mavericks tied the score with 1:29 left in the first period. Rooney passed the puck from the corners out to defenseman Joe Bourne. Bourne moved in from the point and threw the puck on net. The shot went through traffic and somehow found the back of the net.
Both teams came out strong at the beginning of the second period. Bulldog forward Tom Nelson had a good chance from the left side less than a minute in, but his shot hit the post and the score remained notched at 1.
Mankato cashed in on its early chance in the second. Rooney took a pass from teammate Jerry Cunningham at the blue line. He then flew past the defense and came in alone on Duluth goalie Rob Anderson. Anderson came way out of the net and Rooney faked him to the ground. He puck-handled past the sprawled goalie and backhanded the puck into the empty net. Rooney was surprised by how far Anderson came out of the net.
“I got the puck,” Rooney said, “and I thought I had everyone beat right away so I got on my horse and tried to get going as quick as possible. He [Anderson] just shot down on me, and luckily he didn’t poke check it away from me, and I got around him.
“It was a backhand goal — I never score those.”
After Rooney’s goal, both teams clamped down defensively and neither team got many chances until halfway through the second. UMD defenseman Tyler Williamson had two great opportunities off face-offs in the Mankato zone, but Pateman was there to stop both blasts.
The beginning of the third period was the turning point of the game. Anderson misplayed the puck 10 feet out of his net and Mankato forward B.J. Abel knocked the puck away from the goalie. Cole Basset gathered the puck and fired it on net, and Mavericks teammate T.J. Guidarelli tipped the puck into the empty net to make the score 3-1.
Pateman came up with his best save of the game five minutes into the period. Bulldog defenseman Steve Rodberg fired the puck from the point. The puck found its way through traffic, and Pateman was able to block the puck with the end of his stick. Pateman made 31 saves for the win.
Right after Pateman’s save, the Mavericks took the puck down ice and scored the fourth goal to put the game away. Peter Holoien finished off a 3-on-2 rush and shelved the puck past Anderson for his sixth goal of the year.
The Bulldogs managed to pull within two as UMD’s Mark Gunderson put a rebound under Pateman’s legs at the 13:36 mark. However, the Bulldogs got no closer as Pateman and the Mavericks shut down Duluth’s offense.
Mankato’s Ryan Severson finished off the scoring with 15 seconds remaining in the game. With Anderson pulled, Severson broke in the zone alone and put the puck in the net. Rooney assisted on the goal, giving him his 100th point and more importantly giving the Mavericks two points in the standings.
“That was a very important win for us,” Jutting said. “We’re chasing right now, and we need to get all of our points.
“I think we played OK tonight. I don’t think we played with the same intensity we did last week [at North Dakota]. That’s a bit of a concern. We have to come out and play every night at that intensity level.”
Minnesota-Duluth coach Scott Sandelin was upset with his team’s play, especially on the power play.
“We gave them a lot of opportunities, and they capitalized,” Sandelin said. “Our power play wasn’t very good. You have to have your specialty teams going. I just didn’t think we had a real good effort tonight.”
The Bulldogs went 0-for-6 on the power play, while the Mavericks went 0-for-2.
The two teams, who played in front of a crowd of 3,079, will finish their series Friday night with game time set for 7:35 p.m. Central.