ST. CLOUD, Minn. — With the week that Minnesota State just went through, it almost seemed fitting that the Mavericks would blow an early 3-0 lead over St. Cloud State and make the two-hour trek home with eight straight losses in mind.
That wouldn’t be the case.
The Mavericks, confronted with the Husky comeback, battled back by scoring three times in a span of 2:08 early in the third period, then watched as Jon Volp did his best to slow down the St. Cloud offense as MSU picked up its first win in a month with a 7-6 decision before 6,472 at the National Hockey Center.
Ryan McKelvie finished off the barrage, swatting home Shane Joseph’s centering feed with 10:09 to play. The goal capped the Mavericks second three-goal outburst of the game and provided them with a two-goal cushion, enough to earn their fifth win of the year and their first in St. Cloud since joining the Division I ranks.
“We really needed this win,” said Jutting, still recovering from the shot he took to the head Friday afternoon that required four stitches to close.
“The kids really needed to have that feeling again. Especially where we were at, up 3-0 then down and we haven’t won in a while. For us to keep battling and come back and get the win is really satisfying, and like I said, the kids really needed it.”
They probably didn’t expect it to come this way, though.
Dana Sorensen beat Jason Montgomery — starting his first game in over two months — twice midway through the first period, Brad Thompson added another 27 seconds after Sorensen’s second, and before most of the fans in attendance had even gotten warm, Mankato led 3-0. The Huskies fought back, and cut the Maverick lead to one before the period would end.
Bille Luger scored the first of his career with 6:01 to play in the first, and then Dave Iannazzo scored his second shorthanded goal of the weekend a couple minutes later.
45 seconds into the middle period, Tim Conboy drew the Huskies even on a bad-angle shot from the bottom of the circle to Volp’s right. And they weren’t done, as Andy Lundbohm knocked in Gary Houseman’s rebound at 11:53 of the period to give his team its first lead.
“I wasn’t too worried when we got down 3-0 that early,” said St. Cloud State head coach Craig Dahl, whose team had an early 3-0 lead of its own disappear three weeks ago against North Dakota. “The bench stayed positive and everybody was loose, then we came back and scored the next four goals and you think your in pretty good shape, but we could never get that second goal that would have given us a two-goal lead.”
And with that, Mankato never folded. In fact, they kept coming and eventually got the equalizer with ten seconds to go in the period when Jeff Marler deflected Kyle Peto’s shot on a 5-on-3 power play.
“That one was big,” said McKelvie. “It gave us some life again.”
Iannazzo tried to stuff it back out 4:45 into the third when he tipped home a puck Joe Jensen threw on net, but that didn’t kill them either.
Chad Clower scored on pretty play on which he waited for a pair of SCSU defenders to skate by before shifting to his right and whistling a backhand under the crossbar and over Montgomery’s out-stretched glove not two-and-a-half-minutes later. It was Clower’s fifth point of the weekend and his sixth in three games since returning from a shoulder injury that had kept him out the last half of last season and all of this year as well.
“He had a great weekend,” said Jutting.
And he started a three-goal barrage that would finally serve as the knock-out punch neither team could deliver. Iannazzo went off for high-sticking 39 second later and midway through the power play, Mankato struck again. This time it was Kurtis Kisio beating Montgomery with a one-timer from the top of the left circle. McKelvie’s goal came a minute after that.
Justin Fletcher scored a 5-on-3 goal of his own, his fourth in the three games, to cut Mankato’s lead to one. Dahl pulled Montgomery with 56 seconds left, but the Huskies never really got anything going and the game ended with play at center ice.
“With the week we’ve had, this one really feels good,” said McKelvie, whose team lost one of its seniors earlier this week when Cole Bassett decided to hang up his skates. “Our attitudes stayed positive though and we tried to show that we have character and tonight it really paid off for us.”
They’ll have a few days to enjoy it, before leaving for Alaska-Anchorage early Thursday, but with the way their season has panned out thus far. This could be the perfect thing to have on mind before making their longest road trip of the year.
“I hope so,” said McKelvie. “This should give us some confidence.”