MANKATO, Minn. — If Minnesota State celebrates a little too hard for a nonconference win, you’ll have to cut the Mavericks some slack.
After a grueling schedule that pitted MSU against three of the top teams in the country in its first six games, the Mavericks carried a 0-5-1 record into the weekend against Bemidji State. In that stretch, Minnesota State was outscored 28-11.
The Mavericks (1-5-1 overall) took some frustration out on the visiting Beavers (1-2-0 overall) by winning 4-0 in front of 3,165 at the Midwest Wireless Civic Center.
“It felt really good to get a win,” MSU senior forward Jake Brenk said. “We really wanted to win a game. We thought we deserved some wins earlier than we did, but we went out and earned this one tonight.”
MSU looked like the sharper team all night, drawing off the experience of playing conference foes North Dakota, Minnesota-Duluth, and Minnesota.
“I’ve said it all along that those first six games are going to make us a better hockey team,” said Maverick coach Troy Jutting. “But you don’t see the results in just one game. I think it definitely helped us tonight, but it’s one of those things where we need that to carry over and we need to become a better hockey team.”
Minnesota State was led by senior goaltender Jon Volp, who stopped all 34 shots he faced to earn his third career shutout. Travis Morin paced MSU offensively with a goal and two assists.
From the minute the puck dropped in the first, MSU came out gunning and didn’t let up.
David Backes started the scoring 7:20 into the game on the power play. Morin, a sophomore, sent the puck from the right side towards the net, and Backes was in position to tip the puck into the goal for his sixth goal of the season.
Backes had scored all four of MSU’s power play goals up to that point this season, and he has also has scored a goal in five consecutive games for MSU.
Later in the first, freshman Austin Sutter scored his first collegiate goal to give Minnesota State a 2-0 cushion. Defenseman Kyle Peto’s pass from the left side of the net deflected off a BSU player’s skate and kicked back to Sutter. The freshman ripped a shot from the top of the left circle that beat BSU goalie Layne Sedevie at 12:02 of the first.
The Mavericks outshot BSU 17-8 in the opening period.
The Beavers used six power plays in the second period to outshoot MSU 13-9, but the Mavericks came away with the only goal of the period.
Morin finished off a pretty play on the power play, as four consecutive passes set up the goal. Brenk found Morin down low on the right side, who had an empty net to tally his first goal of the season at 10:47 of the second.
“Anybody could have scored the goal I scored,” Morin said. “Everybody on the power play made a great play. Tic-tac-toe, and I was just standing backdoor. It felt really good to get my first goal out of the way too.”
“The third goal I thought really lifted our guys and maybe knocked them back a little bit,” Jutting said.
In the third, Brenk finished the scoring with MSU’s third power-play goal of the night. After getting the puck behind the net, Brenk cut in front and flipped the puck over Sedevie for his first goal of the season.
MSU’s Volp played strong throughout the game, picking up his first shutout since a 0-0 tie against Michigan Tech on November 14, 2003.
“I thought Jon played an excellent hockey game tonight,” Jutting said. “He played the way I like to see. He was under control pretty much all the time tonight.”
In the first, Volp robbed BSU senior Brendan Cook on a shorthanded breakaway.
With Bemidji State on the power play in the second, Volp made a spectacular save on Andrew Murray. After a scramble in front that left Volp on his stomach in the crease, Volp caught Murray’s chance with his right leg and held on to the rebound.
“I got lucky there,” Volp said.
Volp leads the team with a goals-against average of 2.25 and a save percentage of .926.
“I’ve been feeling good, but I haven’t had too many tough games so far,” Volp said. “The defense and the team have been playing great in front of me when I’ve been in net.”
The Mavericks held a 7-1-2 edge over Bemidji State in the last 10 meetings before Friday night’s contest.
“They were faster than us, their speed was too much for, they out special-teamed us, and that was the bottom line,” said BSU coach Tom Serratore.
The Beavers finished 0-9 on the power play, while MSU went 3-7.
“It was frustrating that we couldn’t get anything going on the power play,” Serratore said.
The two teams will finish up the nonconference series Saturday night with game time set for 7:07 p.m.