MANKATO, Minn. — After losing Friday night to Michigan Tech, Minnesota State stressed scoring early.
MSU did just that Saturday night as they scored four goals in the first period and survived a late scare as the Mavericks (18-13-1 overall, 12-11-1 WCHA) beat the Huskies (8-19-3 overall, 6-16-2 WCHA), 5-4.
MSU was lead by forwards Josh Kern and B. J. Abel, each of whom tallied a goal and an assist. Mankato also received solid goaltending from junior Eric Pateman, who came up big when he needed to and made 30 saves in the game.
The Mavericks also killed off a full two minutes of a 5-on-3 disadvantage in the middle of the second period.
Even though he was upset with his team’s performance in the third period, MSU head coach Troy Jutting was happy with their overall play, especially in the first.
“We came out with the intensity we needed and got the four goal lead,” said Jutting. “Some of the kids felt like that was enough, and that will kill you every time. But I give them credit. We battled hard to the end and won the hockey game. We had to win.” Jutting’s Mavericks are in a race with Wisconsin for home-ice advantage. The Badgers came into Saturday with a three-point lead in the standings.
Minnesota State jumped out to a 1-0 lead 1:31 into the game. The Huskies, in their own end, fired a clearing attempt up the middle of the zone. However, MSU defenseman Matt Paluczak read the play perfectly and stepped in just in time to keep the puck in the zone.
“I thought Matt played very well tonight,” said Jutting. “He’s a very smart player and anticipates plays very well.”
Paluczak passed the puck to Kern, who was all alone in front of the net. Kern backhanded a shot underneath MTU goalie Brian Rogers and the puck trickled in for his sixth goal of the year.
Mankato poured on the offense, scoring 17 seconds later. Senior Ryan Severson grabbed the puck in the left corner and passed to captain Tyler Baines, who one-timed the pass from the front of the net to make the score 2-0.
The third MSU goal came as a result of great penalty killing. With Severson off for elbowing, Abel intercepted a pass at the MSU blue line and fed teammate Jesse Rooney, who came streaking into Michigan Tech’s zone. Rooney flew down the right side on a partial breakaway and beat Rogers high on the left side with a laser shot at the 6:53 mark.
After Pateman made saves on forwards Brett Engelhardt and Brad Patterson, MSU got its fourth goal at the 10:19 mark from freshman Tim Jackman. Jackman fired the puck from the right faceoff circle and beat Rogers high to the stick side for his 10th goal of the year.
Tech was able to score 37 seconds after Jackman’s goal to make the score 4-1. The puck took a funny bounce off players in front and landed next to MTU’s Paul Cabana on the left side of the net. Cabana, who had the game-winning goal Friday night, slid the puck in the partially empty net to make the score 4-1.
Cabana’s goal capped off the wild first period of the game.
Tech came out hard in the second and cut the lead to two at 4:22. Forward Frank Werner stole the puck in the Maverick zone and passed it to teammate Jaron Doetzel, who glided in on the right side and beat Pateman between the legs.
The Huskies continued the pressure and had the Mavericks on their heels, but Pateman came up with big saves to preserve the lead. After stopping Patterson and Greg Amadio on blasts from the right circle, Pateman came up with his biggest save 11:30 into the period.
Doetzel carried the puck in with defenseman Adrian Fure on a 2-1 rush. Fure one-timed the pass, but Pateman glided from left to right and made a spectacular kick save.
MSU also came up big on a 5-on-3 later on. After Abel and forward Cole Bassett were called for penalties, the Huskies looked to cut MSU’s lead. But MSU blocked the shooting lanes and defenseman Peter Runkel blocked two big attempts from the point to prevent any pressure.
“That was a game-breaker,” remarked Abel, who watched from the penalty box. “That gave us momentum and confidence. [Pateman] played great.”
Mankato seemed rejuvenated and scored with 1:36 left in the period. Three seconds after MSU’s power play had expired, Nate Mauer passed the puck from behind the net to Abel, who was streaking towards the net from the point. Abel one-timed the puck underneath Rogers for the eventual game-winner.
“I’ve had a lot of chances like that this year,” said Abel. “Mauer gave me a great pass and I was able to put it through [Rogers'] five-hole.”
The Huskies played the third period hard and made it a game by scoring two power-play goals late. After MSU’s T. J. Guidarelli was called for a five-minute checking from behind penalty, Werner and Jarrett Weinberger scored at 15:06 and 17:11, respectively.
However, with Rogers pulled for the extra skater, Pateman came up with a big save on Mat Snesrud in the final minute and MSU held on for the split with a 5-4 victory.
Huskies’ head coach Mike Sertich was unhappy with his team’s performance early on, which he thought set the tone for the night.
“You can’t four-spot a team in their own building,” he said. “I didn’t expect that we would be so flat tonight. Their goalie was big when they needed him.”
Michigan Tech heads home next week to host North Dakota. Minnesota State heads north to battle St. Cloud State.