MANKATO, Minn. — In a warmup game before hosting No. 5 North Dakota next week, Minnesota State defeated Calgary 5-2 in an exhibition game at the Midwest Wireless Civic Center.
David Backes and Adam Gerlach scored two goals each to lead the Mavericks over the Dinos in front of a crowd of 1,627.
“This is by far the best Canadian university we’ve played,” said MSU coach Troy Jutting. “Very good goaltending, good size, a smart team … I think they’re a very well-coached team. This was a way better test than years past. It was good for us.”
“It was a good game to get your feet back under you,” said Backes. “They’re a very good team. They’re hard-hitting. They didn’t make too many mistakes.”
Backes’ first goal in the third period proved to be the game-winner. With his team up 2-1 and on the power play, the sophomore fired a shot past Calgary netminder Donald Choukalos at 8:22.
Less than a minute later, Calgary cut the lead in half as Ryan Annesley poked a loose puck over Maverick goalie Jon Volp. But Backes scored again with 1:09 left to ice the game.
Gerlach, a senior forward, opened and closed the scoring in the game.
While MSU was shorthanded in the first period, Gerlach intercepted a pass at the Maverick blue line and came in alone on Choukalos. Gerlach fired the puck between Choukalos’ legs to put his squad up 1-0 at 2:30 of the first.
Then, with 13 seconds left in the game, Gerlach scored his second unassisted goal of the game by roofing the puck over the Calgary goaltender.
“I think Adam’s going to be a big part of this team this year,” Jutting said.
After going 0 for 4 on its first four power-play chances, Calgary scored on the fifth as Colin McRae beat Maverick goalie Chris Clark 7:58 into the second. The sophomore’s goal tied the game at 1-1.
Senior Brad Thompson put the Mavericks up again 11:09 into the second. After winning a face off in Calgary’s zone, Thompson moved to the net and tipped a shot from the point past Choukalos.
“I was looking to get a little bit of playing experience. I think we got that. We got a pretty good game where we played pretty hard,” said Thompson.
Calgary coach Scott Atkinson, who was disappointed with the way his team finished the game, also enjoyed the chance to get more experience.
“We’re just looking to get better every time we get on the ice,” Atkinson said. “We’re happy with the experience, that’s for sure.”
The exhibition against Atkinson’s squad gave Jutting a chance to put younger players in a game before the regular season starts.
“Considering we played three freshman and three sophomores on the blue line, I thought they did a great job,” Jutting said. “It’s an adjustment anytime you step up a level, but I thought the three freshmen and three sophomores did a terrific job.
“I was pleased with the way the young kids competed.”
The Mavericks will open the regular season and conference play with a series against North Dakota next Friday and Saturday.
“North Dakota is a much different team than this team is,” Thompson said. “North Dakota is going to be a strong, physical team that is quick like we are. It’s going to be a little bit different, but I definitely think this prepared us.”