MANKATO, Minn. — Minnesota State was within two minutes of its first win of the season at home. But one misplay later, the Mavericks were heading to their second consecutive tie.
Ryan Dingle scored with 1:53 left in the third to lift the No. 7 Denver Pioneers to a 3-3 tie against MSU (1-6-2 overall, 1-4-2 WCHA) in front of 3,468 at the Midwest Wireless Civic Center.
The Pioneers (5-3-1 overall, 3-1-1 WCHA) went 3 for 10 on the power play and kept the Mavericks scoreless on 8 chances in the comeback draw.
“Tonight we had to rely on the power playThe power play did a good job and kept getting us back into it. We gotta do a little better job of trying to create a little bit more offensive fire power even strength,” said DU coach George Gwozdecky.
Meanwhile, MSU’s checking line of Christian Toll, Rob Rankin, and Ryan McKelvie limited Denver’s top line and scored two goals and four points on the night.
“I thought they had a great game,” said Maverick coach Troy Jutting.
While Dingle’s goal was the difference maker in the game, previous events in the third set the stage for the sophomore’s goal.
With both teams at two goals apiece to start the period, the Mavericks jumped out to a 3-2 lead. Rankin took a shot from the right side, and Toll was screening DU goalie Glenn Fisher on the play. Fisher couldn’t make a good read on the puck, and Rankin had his second goal of the season at 2:59 of the period.
Minutes later, Minnesota State enjoyed a five-on-three power play for 41 seconds. But Fisher stopped sniper David Backes’ shot from the left side during the stretch, and Denver kept the Mavericks from extending their lead.
Gwozdecky said killing the five-on-three was the key point in the game, adding, “That was a tough one for us.”
The Pioneers failed to score on two other power plays in the final 12 minutes of the game before Dingle finally cashed in for DU.
MSU freshman goalie Dan Tormey attempted to play a loose puck on the left side of the net. He lost control during a scramble, and Dingle was there to cram the loose puck into the net and tie the game at 3.
“It’s just a tough little scrum down low behind the net,” Dingle said. “I think their guy was trying to clear it, and one of our guys got a stick on it at the right time. I was fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time.”
“It was a nice play by (Dingle),” senior Gabe Gauthier said. “He worked really hard and got the goal for us, and it was huge for us.”
In the final seconds of the period, it was Fisher who would play the hero for Denver. The Mavericks won a face off in Denver’s zone with 13 seconds left, and Backes took a clean slap shot from the slot. But Fisher stayed calm and deflected the puck wide, sending the game into overtime.
“Most goaltenders, that’s in the net,” Gwozdecky said. “Glenn made a great save to keep it going into overtime.”
In OT, Denver outshot MSU 3-0, and each team had partial power-play chances. Yet neither team could net the game winner.
“We had to battle back a lot tonight,” Gwozdecky said. “It was one of those games where we are always behind, always trying to catch up. I thought that (MSU) played well, and we did a good job of battling back to tie it up, then had some great chances in overtime to win it.”
The Mavericks came out buzzing to start the game and took a 1-0 lead thanks to their strong play early on. Toll fired a shot from just inside the blue line that eluded Fisher and beat him five hole. Toll’s first goal of the year came at 10:52 of the first.
Denver was able to knot the score at 1 on a power play later in the period. Gauthier got the puck on the right side, made a nice move to elude two Maverick defenders, and wristed the puck high over Tormey’s glove for his fourth goal of the season.
Despite outshooting Denver 13-7 and dominating most of the first, the Mavericks went into the locker room tied.
“We gotta have better preparation for the game and do the things we know how to do right,” Gauthier said.
Backes gave the Mavericks another one-goal lead 8:22 into the second. While skating four-on-four, senior Brock Becker made a nice feed to Backes on a rush, and Backes one-timed the puck past Fisher for his fourth goal of the year.
But Denver once again scored on an extra-man situation, this time from Matt Carle. After a five-on-three expired for DU, Carle blasted a shot from the point for his fourth of the season.
“It sounds dumb-they got three power-play goals-but I thought our penalty kill was pretty good. They just have very good players. And if you make one mistake, great players will take advantage of it,” Jutting said.
The two teams will conclude their WCHA series tomorrow night. Game time is set for 7:07 p.m. C.T.