COLUMBUS, Ohio — The goals Jeff Marler, Brad Thompson, and Brock Becker scored in this one won’t show up on any official stats sheet, but the three markers gave Minnesota State-Mankato a win over Miami in this Ohio Hockey Classic game that ended 3-3 after overtime.
After the Mavericks took a 2-0 lead at the end of the first on goals by Travis Morin and Kurtis Kisio, the RedHawks poured on the heat and outshot Mankato 28-13 in the final two stanzas, earning two unanswered goals in the second and responding to Rob Rankin’s early third-period tally with one of their own later in the game to send the contest into OT.
“I thought all in all it was a pretty good college hockey game,” said Mankato head coach Troy Jutting. “Miami did a nice job and took it to us. In the first period we played well and then we got tired.”
“In the first period, we were still trying to feel them out, and they were coming at us pretty hard,” said Miami captain Andy Greene. “At the end of the first, we adjusted to it and started to handle it much better. I know that the [defensive] partners started working better together, using each other.”
Maverick goaltender Chris Clark made 43 saves as Miami outshot Mankato 46-28 overall, the most shots the Mavs have had to face this season. “I’m good, Coach,” said Clark in response to a question about how tired he might be after working so hard for the duration.
Travis Morin capitalized on Becker’s initial shot at 11:54 in the first, and Kurtis Kisio picked up Ryan Carter’s rebound at 15:15 on the power play to give the Mavericks their 2-0 lead after one, but the RedHawks roared back in the second to outshoot Mankato 13-8 and score two unanswered goals of their own.
At 1:38, Ryan Jones scored on a two-on-one breakaway, burying Andy Nelson’s cross-crease feed to cut the lead in half, and at 9:06, Todd Grant’s tying tally was a pure goal-scorer’s goal, a one-timer from the far right circle that caught the only opening available, the near upper corner above Clark’s extended glove.
Maverick Rob Rankin broke the deadlock at 1:06 in the third, shooting through all kinds of traffic from the right point to give Mankato a 3-2 lead, but the tenacious RedHawks wouldn’t die. At 12:54, Taylor Hustead’s game-tying goal was the end result of Joe Cooper’s and Matt Davis’s hard work. Cooper passed out from the left corner to Davis in the circle. Davis shot and Clark blocked it, but gave up a rebound that lay motionless in the crease. All Hustead had to do was backhand it into the empty net.
In the five-round shootout, Marler beat Brandon Crawford-West on the first shot, Thompson’s shot trickled in for the fourth shot, and Becker beat the Miami goaltender five-hole on the fifth attempt.
Grant was the only RedHawk to score in the shootout, on Miami’s third shot. Grant waited for Clark to commit, hesitated, and backhanded it in.
“I thought this weekend our players played extremely hard and I was very pleased with the effort,” said Miami head coach Enrico Blasi. “If we play that way down the road, I’ll be very happy. I don’t know what the outcome will be, but I’ll be happy — and I really don’t care about the outcome, it’s how you play the game.”
The Mavericks finished the night 1-for-5 on the power play; Miami was scoreless for nine man advantages. Crawford-West had 25 saves in the tie.
Jutting said that the Mavericks had to make two adjustments in this tournament: going from the Olympic sheet to regulation-sized ice, and to the difference in officiating between the WCHA and the CCHA.
The rink size, said Jutting, was “a little bit different” for Mankato. “These were our first to small-rink games all season long, so that was an adjustment for us that way. Defensively, it’s quite a bit different to defend in a small rink than a big rink.”
Like Colorado College head coach Scott Owens, Jutting said the style of officiating he encountered wasn’t what he and the Mavericks have seen so far this season.
“I try not to comment on the officiating but there’s no question about it. They’ve made a concerted effort this year in college hockey to take away some of the obstruction away from the puck, and I don’t know if that’s what the emphasis was this weekend. There were a lot of calls around the puck, but I didn’t see any calls away from the puck.”
The Mavericks (7-10-3, 4-9-1 WCHA) return to WCHA action Jan. 7-8 on regulation ice against North Dakota. Miami (7-10-3, 3-7-2 CCHA) hosts league rival Michigan State Jan. 7-8.