MANKATO, Minn. — It’s fairly likely that Chad Davis will remember his trip to Mankato.
After allowing seven goals on 60 shots the night before, Davis stopped 57 of 60 Saturday as American International (4-7-2) hung on for a 3-3 tie against Minnesota State (6-7-5) in a nonconference matchup.
“The kid had 57 saves tonight — he did a great job for them, had a great weekend,” said MSU coach Troy Jutting. “It’s a frustrating thing to put 60 shots on net and only score three goals, then have them get 20 shots and score three goals.”
Davis said that he’s used to “usually not quite as many.”
But it was the goal that Davis let in with 1:19 left in the game that proved to be the most important.
Down 3-2, MSU’s Peter Runkel fired a slapshot on net from the left point. Davis stopped his shot and tried to cover the rebound with his glove, but Adam Gerlach raced in, freed the puck, and put it into the net.
“Tough break,” Davis said.
In overtime, Runkel thought he had the game winner. The senior defenseman wrapped around the net and came out the left side. He slid the puck into the crease, and the Maverick skaters raised their hands in celebration. However, the red light never came on, and Davis produced the puck.
“The guy passed it out to the front of the net,” Davis said, “and my leg was laying close to the goal line. Maybe the puck might have reached the goal line, but it didn’t go in.”
AIC also had a close chance in overtime as Ryan Robin took the puck into the net with him. However, referee Marco Hunt ruled no goal and the game ended 3-3.
After an overwhelming 7-3 loss the night before, the Yellow Jackets started the game with a poised first 20 minutes of play. After Davis made key saves on Cole Bassett and Gerlach, AIC seized an opportunity and scored to take a 1-0 lead.
Sophomore Ron Miller brought the puck down the left side on a three-on-two rush for AIC. Miller slid the puck back to teammate Andy Luhovy, who was following up the play. The Yellow Jacket captain fired a quick shot between MSU goaltender Jason Jensen’s legs at 11:01 of the first.
After Miller’s goal, Davis stood strong in net and held the Mavericks scoreless in the first. The sophomore goaltender made 16 saves, including a tough save with less than 2:30 left in the period. MSU’s Brock Becker fired a backhand in close from the slot, but a sprawling Davis knocked the puck to the left of the goal.
Miller even got some help from the posts on the shots he couldn’t stop. About 15 minutes into the period, Runkel took a shot from the left side of the blue line. His shot hit the left post, clanged off the right post, and finally bounced away.
In the second, AIC’s good fortunes continued as the ‘Jackets scored again just 3:11 into the period.
Guillaume Caron, who had three points the previous night, started the attack as he brought the puck into MSU’s zone. Caron stickhandled around the Maverick defensemen and dragged the puck through his legs before finding Luhovy on the right side. Luhovy drove to the net and put the puck over Jensen’s left shoulder for his second goal of the night.
MSU finally solved Davis with just 1:42 left in the second. Sophomore Brad Thompson got the puck and glided to the front of the net. The forward fired the puck on net, and Davis made the initial save before colliding with MSU’s Jake Brenk. With Davis and Brenk on the ground, Thompson put his own rebound over the bodies to make the score 2-1 heading into the third.
After going scoreless on four power plays, the Mavericks finally found success on their fifth chance.
Becker, from the right, passed across the ice to Brenk on the left side. Brenk immediately sent the puck back across the zone to Dana Sorenson, who was camped out on the right side of the net. Sorenson finished off the tic-tac-toe play by tipping the puck into the net. The goal, his sixth of the year, knotted the score, 2-2, at 8:48 of the third.
But a defensive breakdown by MSU handed the lead back to the Yellow Jackets. Anthony Rufrano beat two Maverick skaters on the left boards and passed over to a forgotten Todd O’Neil on the right side of the net. O’Neil, completely alone, had plenty of time to put the puck past Jensen at 12:05 of the third.
“We had a defenseman not being where he should have been,” Jutting said. “Horrible mental mistake.”
Jutting was frustrated after the game, partly due to Davis’ play.
“Obviously I would have liked to create more opportunities,” Jutting said, “but I think when you get 60 chances to shoot it at their goalie, you gotta score more than three goals. We just didn’t put it past the goalie when we had chances to. We just weren’t sharp like you need to be sharp. But in saying that, we still put up 60 shots.
“I told them they better get ready to go to practice on Monday,” Jutting added.
Meanwhile, the Yellow Jackets were happy despite losing a late lead.
“I think it was a good weekend for the team and the boys,” Davis said. “First time we got to come out to the WCHA and represent the MAAC. We gave it a good effort and tied the game. We’re disappointed, but at the same time I think we can build off it.
“We’re happy to get something out of it,” Davis added. “Obviously we wanted the win, but I think we rebounded and gained a little respect after last night, and that’s what we were looking for.”
“Obviously it’s really big,” AIC coach Gary Wright said. “Even to begin with, this was a pretty special trip for us. And to perform as we did tonight and come out of here with a tie, that’s certainly a bit of a milestone for our program.”
Up next for American International is a home-and-home conference series with Army. MSU takes to the road in a WCHA series against Wisconsin.