MANKATO, Minn. — It may have been only an exhibition, but Alberta goalie Blake Grenier wasn’t about to let Minnesota State start the season with goal-scoring confidence.
Grenier stopped 36 shots to beat the Mavericks 5-0 in front of a crowd of 2,723 at the Midwest Wireless Civic Center.
“Obviously we’ve got some things we’ve got to clean up a little bit,” said MSU coach Troy Jutting. “I think the goaltender played extremely well and made a lot of great saves that could have made a difference.”
MSU controlled the pace for most of the first period, outshooting the Golden Bears 14-10 in the first. But the Mavericks wore down by the end of the game, and it was evident the team had only been practicing since last Saturday.
“We practiced every day, and we haven’t played in any games,” Jutting said. “And games, there’s a different type of game condition. I think that definitely was a part of it.”
Alberta took the lead 15:59 into the first period. On the power play, Brad Tutschek fired from the right circle. MSU goaltender Chris Clark stopped the shot, but Ben Kilgur put home the rebound from the right side of the net.
MSU was thwarted multiple times in the first period by Grenier. Midway through the period, Grenier robbed David Backes on his five-on-three slapshot. As the period ended, he withstood a flurry in front of the net.
“I did think that we had opportunities tonight to score four, five, six goals. I thought their goaltender played well. Very well,” said Jutting.
The Golden Bears added three more scores in the second, giving MSU freshman goalie Mike Zacharias a rude welcoming to the college level.
With Alberta on a power play, Ben Thompson passed the puck from behind the net and bounced it off Zacharias and in for a goal at 9:21.
Just 1:23 later, the Golden Bears scored on a two-on-none as Jonathan Hobson finished off a give-and-go with Tim Krymusa.
“We made mistakes that I expected us to make,” Jutting said. “That’s a very good hockey team. They’re by far the best team we’ve played from Canada.”
Then, with one second left in the period, Dylan Stanley caught Zacharias out of position for a nearly empty-net goal.
Alberta finished the scoring in the third with its third power-play goal of the game. Tutschek beat another MSU freshman goalie, Dan Tormey, with 1:04 left in the contest.
The Golden Bears went 3 for 8 with the man advantage, while MSU went scoreless on six power-play chances.
“I thought, for six days, I was pleased with the movement on the power play and the opportunities we created,” Jutting said. “Obviously [I was] not pleased that we weren’t able to get it by [Grenier].”
Last year, Minnesota State defeated another Canadian team, Calgary, by a score of 5-2 in an exhibition tilt. Jutting found this loss more valuable than last year’s win.
“It was good for us. It’s not good to get beat 5-0. But it was good for us because we got beat by a team … that is a quality hockey team, and it made us better. No question,” Jutting said.
The Golden Bears, who lost to the Minnesota Golden Gophers 4-3 Thursday, will play St. Cloud State Saturday night. The Mavericks begin their regular season with a nonconference series against Bemidji State next weekend.