MANKATO, Minn. — It seemed so similar to the ending of a Mighty Duck movie, you almost had to check for a Disney copyright.
On the contrary, Shane Joseph’s penalty shot goal in overtime was anything but a Hollywood script. The junior capped a wild comeback for Minnesota State (9-7-6, 7-5-4 WCHA) as the team rallied for a 5-4 overtime victory over Michigan Tech (5-12-3, 2-8-2).
“Geez, I’ve never seen that happen before in my life, so it’s definitely an experience and one you’ll remember for awhile,” Joseph said.
Joseph’s penalty shot was the result of a delay of game penalty on Clay Wilson. On the play, Joseph got the puck all alone in front of the net at 3:43 of overtime. In desperation, Wilson pushed the net over as Joseph’s shot missed.
Referee Don Adam immediately called a penalty. But after further conversation with his linesmen, Adam ruled for a penalty shot.
“I missed the shot, and I didn’t know what was going on,” Joseph said. “I’m kind of just thinking about the shot I missed. All the sudden I see the refs in the corner talking, and I’m thinking, ‘What’s going on?’ Then I see a penalty shot. We went over to the bench, and I got the job.”
“Shane’s got the hot hand and he’s pretty good when he’s in alone,” MSU coach Troy Jutting said, explaining why he chose Joseph for the penalty shot. “I just knew, ‘Hey this is our opportunity to get it done.’”
“Well, I knew as soon as they gave it to him that it was going to go in,” said teammate Grant Stevenson. “We all got a lot of confidence in Shane, and it couldn’t have worked out better. If you could pick one guy to do it, I’m sure he’s the one.”
Joseph grabbed the puck, raced down the middle of the ice, and beat MTU goalie Cam Ellsworth low glove side to send his teammates and the 3,389 fans at Mankato into jubilation.
“I went out there,” Joseph said, “And it was a long, long, long 30 seconds that I’m waiting there. I don’t think I’ve ever been that nervous in a hockey game before. I just picked up the puck and then I just saw the opening and put it home.
“Any time you can win like that in overtime the emotions are definitely higher than just a regular win. You dream of those opportunities — getting to win the game with a shot in overtime.”
“To get your opportunity there,” Jutting said, “You gotta put that one away if you’re going to win the game. I don’t know that we get another chance. That’s a lift to them if they stop it, so it’s a real important time.”
But Joseph’s heroics would not have been possible if not for a late desperation goal by Stevenson.
Down 4-3 with under a minute left, the Mavericks called a timeout and pulled goaltender Jason Jensen for the extra skater.
MSU won the face off in the Huskies’ zone, and Stevenson eventually took the shot from the right circle. The puck went through traffic and past Ellsworth to tie the game with less than 33 seconds left.
“I just put my head down and hit it as hard as I could towards the net,” Stevenson said. “I didn’t know it went in until a couple guys started going crazy in front and running at me. It was a great feeling.”
“To score a goal that late and to tie it up is something that doesn’t happen very often,” Jutting said.
Michigan Tech had taken the lead after two goals in the third. The fist came 8:58 into the period. After MSU’s Adam Gerlach broke a 2-2 tie 12 seconds into the third to give his team the lead, Wilson scored a power play goal from just inside the blue line.
Just 1:06 later, MTU’s Jon Pittis had the puck and tried to center it from the left corner. The puck hit Maverick defenseman Jon Dubel in the skate and sat in front of the net. Bryan Perez tapped in the puck to give his team a 4-3 lead at 10:04.
“I think we got down, then we took the lead at 3-2,” Jutting said. “And for some reason there we kind of lost a little bit of our intensity for about six or seven minutes. As I’ve said all week, Michigan Tech is a better hockey team then they’ve been. They’ve got some skilled kids that will capitalize if you give them opportunities.”
The scoring in the game started with Joseph as he tallied 6:47 into the game. Joseph received the puck at center ice and sped down the left side of the rink. After blowing past the defense, Joseph cut to the center of the crease. Ellsworth dived to his right in attempt to make a poke check, but Joseph avoided the goalie and put the puck into the empty right side of the net.
But the Huskies would battle back and, despite being outshot 11-4 in the first, would carry a 2-1 lead into the locker room.
Michigan Tech’s first goal came on a shorthanded break. Chris Conner carried the puck down on a two-on-one rush with Colin Murphy on his left side. Conner took the shot himself and put the puck past Jensen for his ninth goal of the year at 12:28.
MTU made it 2-1 with a lucky bounce late in the first. Pittis took a shot from the right side, but his shot missed wide right of the net. The puck bounced off the boards and came back in front on the left side, where Murphy tapped the puck into the net at 18:07.
The Mavericks were able to notch the score at 2-2 with a breakaway goal 3:34 into the second. The play started with a sweet pass from defenseman Joe Bourne. From the left corner of the Maverick zone, the senior thread the needle with a pass that hit Gerlach just before the Huskie blue line. Gerlach came in alone on Ellsworth and put the puck past the netminder for his first goal of the game.
After the game, MTU coach Mike Sertich refused to comment on any officiating. In fact, the only printable thing he was willing to say was his team felt good about their position late in the third.
“Feeling very comfortable,” Sertich said. “We played quite well, actually.”
For MSU, there was much reason to celebrate. The win marked the first sweep for the Mavericks since last year on February 1 and 2 against, you guessed it, Michigan Tech at home.
The four points on the weekend also put MSU in third place in the WCHA standings with 18 points.
“It’s huge for us,” Jutting said. “With where we’re at right now in the league battle and everything, it’s four points that, if you’re going to stay involved in that league in the top five, you had to get four points this weekend.”
Next weekend the Mavericks take to the road in a series against Denver University. The Huskies will head back home to play league-leading Colorado College.
“This weekend was huge,” Joseph said. “We went from seventh to third in two weeks. We gotta beat the teams that we should beat, and this was one of those weekends and we got the job done. Now we’re in third, and we got to maintain that. We’re coming up against some tough teams up here, so we gotta maintain our poise and maintain our level of play in order to keep our position in the league.”