MANKATO, Minn. — Minnesota State waited until the end of last year before it put together a four-game winning streak. This season, MSU got it done a little sooner.
The Mavericks won their fourth consecutive game and picked up their first WCHA sweep of the year as they defeated Alaska-Anchorage 5-2 in front of 3,661.
“Anytime you get wins in this league, they’re valuable,” MSU coach Troy Jutting said. “Obviously it was very important for us this weekend.”
Ryan Carter led the Mavericks with two goals. Four MSU skaters tallied two assists each, and senior goaltender Jon Volp stopped 23 of 25 shots for his third consecutive win.
Carter’s two goals came in different ways, but both produced the same result.
In the first, Carter, a freshman, took a pass from Kyle Peto on the power play and ripped the shot past UAA goalie Nathan Lawson. Carter’s one-timer gave MSU a 1-0 lead at 9:26 of the period.
“He’s got the hardest shot on our team,” Jutting said. “I don’t think there’s any doubt about it.”
“I like to consider myself a shooter,” Carter said. “In the summer in the off season, I shoot a lot of pucks. I think that’s going to help me score goals, so that’s why I do it.”
In the second, with the score 2-1 in MSU’s favor, Carter scored on a rebound. After Ryan McKelvie tipped a shot on net that Lawson stopped, Carter streaked in, moved the rebound from his backhand to his forehand, and chipped the puck over Lawson at 2:11 of the period.
“Those are the goals I usually get,” Carter said. “Those ugly ones where I kind of find myself in there and try to bang it in. I take more pride in the second ones though then I do in the first ones. I like those ones, the ugly ones.”
Carter’s first period power-play tally wasn’t the only extra-man goal of the period. After his goal, Alaska-Anchorage struck back at the 13:38 mark with a goal from Justin Bourne.
Teammate Martin Stuchlik made a great pass that evaded MSU’s Chad Brownlee and found Bourne all alone on the left side. Volp came way out of his net to stop Bourne, but Bourne moved around the MSU netminder and put the puck into an empty net to tie the game.
However, that goal was the only power play goal UAA got on the weekend. The Seawolves went 1-7 Saturday night, after going 0-8 Friday night.
“It’s frustrating because it certainly felt like we got one on the power play, got the ball rolling, but again, as the night rolled on, we had trouble setting it up,” Bourne said.
“It’s hard to win in this league when your power play doesn’t produce,” Seawolves coach John Hill said.
Minnesota State retook the lead with their second power play goal of the game at 17:13 of the first. David Backes started a rush moving inside the blue line and finding a streaking Kurtis Kisio on the right side. Kisio quickly passed to the front of the net, where Travis Morin was alone for an easy tip-in goal.
The Mavericks, who finished 2-8 on the man-advantage, have scored a power-play goal in six straight games.
Brock Becker put the game away 34 seconds into the third. The junior tipped a pass from Rob Rankin between Lawson’s legs to make it a 4-1 game. The goal was Becker’s second in as many nights.
“I said it to the guys before we started the third that I thought the next goal was a critical goal in the game. Fortunately, we got it right away,” Jutting said.
MSU’s Brad Thompson and Seawolves forward Nick Lowe each tallied late in the game to make it a 5-2 final score.
“We’ve got to be better prepared at the start of a weekend,” Bourne said. “We were out of this weekend when it was five minutes into the first game. Preparation is so essential. If you’re not ready for the drop of the puck in the first game, there’s no team in this league that can’t beat you.”
Hill agreed with his player, saying, “I think that we were out of it from the get go. I thought we would respond tonight, but we didn’t.”
The Seawolves will return to Anchorage to host Wisconsin next weekend. The Mavericks will stay in Mankato and take on Alabama-Huntsville in a nonconference matchup.
“I think we’re going to roll from here on out,” Carter said.