MANKATO, Minn. — Minnesota State University, Mankato had an objective heading into its game against Minnesota-Duluth Friday night: score the first goal of the game early, and keep it rolling from there. The Mavericks did exactly that en route to a 7-4 victory over the Bulldogs at the Midwest Wireless Civic Center.
The Mavericks (9-8-1 WCHA, 15-10-1 overall) scored three minutes into the game and took over to complete a home sweep of UMD (2-15-1 WCHA, 5-19-2 overall). MSU was lead by two goals apiece from Josh Kern, B. J. Abel, and Dana Sorenson, and three assists by T. J. Guidarelli.
“Teams have scored on us first a lot lately,” commented Sorenson, “and that was our number-one goal — to come in right at the start and get that first goal.
“And we got it.”
MSU head coach Troy Jutting agreed. “I thought tonight we came out with a lot more jump in the first period,” he said. “I think it was important that we got out to a good start tonight, and I think our guys understood that. We played the way we were capable of in the first period. We were moving our feet well and getting the puck to the net.”
MSU carried its dominance from the end of Thursday night’s game into Friday.
Kern started the scoring early for the Mavericks at the 3:02 mark. Defenseman Ben Christopherson carried the puck into the Bulldog zone and passed to teammate Peter Holoien, who spotted Kern streaking towards the net, and he passed to the junior, who tipped the puck in.
After killing off a UMD power play, the Mavericks lit the lamp again 7:39 into the game. Mankato’s Ryan Severson tried to pass the puck to Sorenson, who was heading towards the net. The puck went off a Bulldog defenseman and bounced right behind Sorenson, but the freshman was able to reach back and fire the puck on net as he fell, beating UMD goalie Adam Coole for his second goal of the season.
“It was kind of a broken play,” explained Sorenson. “I was just going to the net and I looked behind me and it was right there. Their defenseman skated right by it, and I just went back and shot it on the net.”
It would take only 30 seconds for Minnesota State to make the score 3-0. After the Bulldogs carried the puck out of their zone, a turnover at center led to a breakaway for the Mavericks. Guidarelli grabbed the puck and passed to Abel, who had come out of the Bulldog zone late. When he received the puck, he was already behind the defense and had a clear path to the net. He came in alone and shot the puck to Coole’s right side. The goalie seemed to have stopped the puck, but it trickled in underneath him for Abel’s first of the night.
Duluth was unable to sustain any pressure throughout the period, and by the time of the third MSU goal, the Bulldogs had been outshot 8-0. MSU outshot the Bulldogs 12-2 in the first period.
MSU kept the pressure going into the second as Sorenson scored his second of the game at the 4:15 mark. A shot from the point trickled through to Sorenson, who flipped the puck past Coole on the right side to make the score 4-0.
After the fourth goal, the Bulldogs appeared to get their game together and started a rally. Mankato goalie Eric Pateman made two spectacular saves on UMD’s Mark Gunderson and Ryan Homstol, but the Duluth offense finally beat Pateman at the 7:40 mark.
Defenseman Tyler Williamson fired a shot from the right side on net. Pateman stopped the initial shot, but freshman Junior Lessard was there to put the rebound in. Lessard finished the game with two goals and an assist.
The MSU defense seemed to disappear as Duluth, with the momentum, scored again with 2:53 left in the second. Forward Tom Nelson carried the puck into the zone and fired a laser shot at Pateman. The goalie got his pad on the shot, but it wasn’t enough as the puck trickled in to cut MSU’s lead to two.
The turning point of the game came after Nelson’s goal. With MSU on its heels, Gunderson was called for holding, and with one second left in the period, MSU’s Severson tipped Joe Bourne’s shot from the point past Coole for the eventual game-winner.
For the third time in the game, MSU scored early in a period as Abel added his second goal of the night 19 seconds into the third. At the 12:04 mark, Coole let a soft shot by Kern in for his second of the night. That made the score 7-2.
The third period was marred with 12 penalties, numerous fights, and sloppy play at both ends of the ice. UMD got two more goals from Lessard and Nate Anderson while MSU’s Matt Paluczak was off for a five-minute major for checking from behind. However, the goals came too late and the game ended 7-4.
UMD head coach Scott Sandelin was very upset with his team’s performance.
“They outplayed us in every area,” said Sandelin. “We gave up 24 shots and they got seven goals. We just didn’t have a very good team performance. I give them credit because they came out and did what they had to do in the first period. They were all over us, we were caught standing, and they buried their chances.
“After they got the fourth goal, I thought we played a pretty good period until the end,” he added. “That’s the way things have gone. One second left, and the guy tips the puck in. That’s the way it’s gone all year.”