MANKATO, Minn. — Call it dj vu or bad luck, but either way, Bemidji State left Mankato without a single goal.
For the second straight night, Minnesota State defeated Bemidji State (1-3-0 overall) by a score of 4-0, giving the Mavericks their first sweep of the season.
The consecutive shutouts were the first for MSU since the 1995-96 season and the first for the program in its Division I history. The school has now had consecutive shutouts five different times.
After Jon Volp stopped all 34 shots the night before, sophomore Chris Clark denied all 21 shots he saw Saturday night to earn his first collegiate shutout. According to Clark, it was his first since he was 14.
“Yeah, I haven’t had one in a long time,” said Clark, who is 22 years old. “I almost forgot what they were.”
Of the program’s milestone marker, Clark said, “Jon and I are both honored, but I think if you ask Jon, he’ll say the same thing. You’ve got to give a lot of credit to our defense. Our defensemen and our forwards too, our whole defensive system, was great this weekend.”
Just like Friday night, four different forwards scored for MSU (2-5-1 overall). Three of the goal-scorers in the game were freshmen.
The Mavericks took an early lead over the visiting Beavers in front of 3,268 fans. In the first, Jake Brenk made a drop pass to freshman Austin Sutter. After driving to the net hard, Sutter slid a backhand shot on net that beat BSU goalie Layne Sedevie at 1:23 of the period. The goal was Sutter’s second of the series.
Minnesota State nearly had a two-goal lead almost a minute later. Junior Rob Rankin took a hard-angle shot that beat Sedevie over the netminder’s right shoulder. However, the puck hit both posts and the crossbar and bounced away.
In the second, David Backes also found metal as his shot from the slot hit the post and deflected to the side.
After letting the Beavers hang around for two periods, MSU came out in the third and put Bemidji State away with two early goals.
On the power play, defenseman Kyle Peto took a shot from the point that was partially blocked by a diving BSU player. The puck bounced over to Ryan Carter on the right side. The freshman forward deked Sedevie to the ice and put the puck past him for his second collegiate goal at 1:56 of the third.
Just 34 seconds later, Backes gave the Mavericks a 3-0 lead. Backes tipped the puck from the left side behind Sedevie for his team-leading seventh goal of the season. Backes has scored a goal in six straight games.
“I’m much more pleased with tonight’s performance than last night’s,” MSU coach Troy Jutting said. “I thought we did a much better job in the third period of making smart plays and not giving the puck over for opportunities you shouldn’t be giving up.”
Freshman Joel Hanson finished off a backdoor play with the man advantage to give the Mavericks a 4-0 lead at 12:40 of the third. Hanson received the puck after sophomore Travis Morin made a nice pass through traffic in front of the net. Sedevie was unable to slide back in time to stop Hanson’s shot.
“It feels really good to get that monkey off my back,” Hanson said regarding his first goal. “It’s nice being on the power play, seeing a wide-open net and just putting it home.”
Including Hanson, who also had an assist in the game, four Mavericks picked up their first collegiate points in the series.
“We’re going to need those guys,” Jutting said. “You can’t just depend on the old guys all the time. You need the young guys to step up and make plays, and I thought they did a real nice job tonight.”
“I think that’s good for our team,” Hanson said. “Our freshman have stepped in and played a pretty big role on the penalty kill and power play. And I think they’ve done a good job so far. They just need to keep it up.”
Clark faced few challenging BSU scoring opportunities. His toughest came in the final moments of the game. With less than two minutes left, Bemidji State’s Rob Sirianni took a shot off a rebound that forced Clark to dive to his right and make the save.
“I thought Chris did a very nice job tonight,” Jutting said. “He stopped the pucks he should have stopped and probably a couple of them there that were a little difficult, but I felt he played under control for the most part and did a real nice job for us tonight.”
Bemidji State nearly got its first goal of the weekend with 6:37 left in game when Matt Pope fired the puck into the net. However, the referees said the whistle had been blown due to a penalty before Pope scored.
“You want to score a goal,” Serratore said. “That’s the name of the game. But we just have to try to get better as a team, and you’ve got to try to take something positive out of this weekend and have it carry over to this coming weekend and to the rest of the season.”
The Mavericks continue their homestand next weekend as they host conference opponent Alaska-Anchorage. The Beavers return to Bemidji to face Bentley in a nonconference matchup.