DENVER — MSU-Mankato scored four unanswered goals in the third period to defeat the No. 11 Denver, 6-3, and earn a key WCHA sweep Saturday night at Magness Arena in Denver.
With the sweep, the Mavericks (17-10-1, 11-8-1 WCHA) and Pioneers (14-11-3, 9-9-2 WCHA) flip-flop their places in the WCHA standings, with MSU now in fifth place and Denver sixth.
Mankato got on board first when Jesse Rooney took a turnover in the neutral zone and skated untouched on goaltender Wade Dubielewicz with the Pioneers on the power play. Rooney placed the puck between Dubielewicz’s legs to post a shorthanded goal 8 minutes, 50 seconds into the game.
Less than 5 minutes later, the Pioneers got the equalizer when the Mavericks were called for a delayed penalty. With an extra Denver skater on the ice in place of Dubielewicz, the Pioneers moved the puck around their offensive zone and their patience paid off when defenseman Jesse Cook fed a streaking Kelly Popadynetz in front of the goal. The traffic in front of the net caused a deflection of the pass off of an MSU defender’s leg, giving the Pioneers a 1-1 tie and Cook his first goal of the season with 6:56 to play in the first.
Mankato went up 2-1 on the power play just 1:37 into the second period when Nate Mauer slapped a rebound of an Andy Hedlund shot under Dubielewicz’s stick side, but the Pioneers quickly tied the score at 2-2 when center Kevin Doell took a long pass from Dubielewicz, skated through the MSU defense and flicked the puck under the stick side of Maverick netminder Eric Pateman at the 3:07 mark of the second.
With just 44 seconds left in the second and the Pioneers on their sixth power play of the night, Denver forged ahead 3-2 by dominating control of the puck in its offensive zone. Chris Paradise capitalized for the Pioneers when he launched a slapshot from the blueline that made it through traffic and found the back of the net.
MSU tied the game at 3-3 midway through the third period when Mauer flicked in a rebound of a Jerry Cunningham slapper for his second goal of the game.
The Mavericks then scored the game-winning goal less than 2 minutes later when Ben Christopherson scored on a rebound over Dubielewicz’ stick side.
MSU put the game away with 1:57 to go by converting on a textbook 2-on-1 breakaway. Cole Bassett was credited with his eighth goal of the season, and Mankato added an empty-netter with 15 seconds left to provide the final margin.