DULUTH, Minn. — Minnesota State-Mankato overcame a two-goal first-period deficit and an injured starting goaltender to beat No. 10 Minnesota-Duluth 4-3 Saturday night, and earn a road sweep in the two-game WCHA series.
Tim Jackman led the way for the Mavericks (2-0 WCHA, 3-1 overall) with two goals, including the game-winner with 6:44 remaining in the third period.
Jackman also scored MSU’s third goal, midway through the second period. But before the comeback began, the sophomore winger found himself in the proverbial doghouse for taking a penalty that helped give UMD (0-2 WCHA, 2-2 overall) its early lead.
Jackman was whistled for slashing at the 11:55 mark of the first period. The penalty gave UMD a two-man advantage, and defenseman Andy Reierson converted it into a goal with a shot from the high slot just over a minute later.
With his team down 2-0 during the first intermission, Mavs head coach Troy Jutting thought it was a good time to have a little talk with his team and specifically mention Jackman’s penalty.
Jutting didn’t give a lot of details: “We just had a friendly little conversation.”
But Jackman, a second round pick by the Columbus Bluejackets in last June’s NHL draft, listened.
“He mentioned the penalty and that lit a fire in me,” he said. “I felt really bad cause they scored on it.”
Jackman started making up for it in the second period, when his goal at 9:34 gave his team the lead for the first time. The winger found himself in front of an open net after a Jon Hart shot deflected off of Bulldog goaltender Adam Coole to the right side of the crease. Jackman just tapped it in to make it 3-2.
His game-winner came after taking a break out pass from Andy Hedlund. Jackman then sent the puck up the left side boards to B.J. Abel, who carried it across the UMD blue line. Abel slid the puck to Jackman, who quickly ripped a wrist shot into the back of the net.
The Bulldogs seemed to gain control early, registering a power-play goal just over two minutes into the contest as Jon Francisco notched his first goal of the game.
Judd Medak set up the play when he skated in from the blue line and into the slot before sending a smooth backhand pass to Francisco, who swiftly slammed it past starting goaltender Eric Pateman, bringing most of the 3,934 people at the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center to their feet.
That was followed by Reierson’s goal at 13:05. The first period ended with a flurry of penalties as players let out aggressions that built up over the two-game series. The referees whistled a total of 40 minutes of penalties over the opening session’s last ten minutes.
But when the second period started, the whistles quieted and the Mavericks roared back.
Dana Sorensen started the comeback just a minute into the period when he took an errant pass from Duluth’s Tom Nelson. Nelson was trying to kill an MSU power play and sent a backhand pass from deep within the Mankato zone to neutral ice, but instead, the puck found its way to Sorensen, who promptly carried it between two UMD defenders and sent it past goaltender Adam Coole to make it 2-1.
MSU then evened the score five minutes later when Nate Metcalf scored on a rebound.
UMD did manage one more goal, with about six minutes left in the second period, when Francisco scored on a breakaway.
“The letdown in the second period was the turning point,” said UMD head coach Scott Sandelin.
“We kinda quit playing the way we did. They didn’t have any shots in the slot [in the first period], we had ‘em on their heels. Then we came out flat, and they got a weak goal.”
Sandelin says his team needs to work on being consistent: “If we could have put together three periods as the first we would have won the game.”
Jutting says he’s proud of how his team came back for the win.
“On the road, down 2-0, it would have been easy to pack it in,” he said.
MSU also pulled out the victory with its backup goaltender between the pipes for most of the game. Jon Volp was called into action after Pateman suffered an apparent shoulder injury in the second period. It’s unclear if or for how long Pateman may be out of action.
For the second straight night, UMD outshot Mankato, 39-27. Volp stopped 24 of the 25 shots he faced.
The Mavericks will open their home schedule next weekend, when they face St. Cloud State in a two-game WCHA series. UMD stays at home as it hosts RPI for a nonconference series.