MANKATO, Minn. — Pretty goals make the highlight reel, but often it’s the ugly goals that win games.
That was true Friday night, as the Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs (6-7-2 overall, 4-3-2 WCHA) got a lucky bounce in overtime to defeat hosting Minnesota State.
The Bulldogs jumped out to a 3-1 lead, weathered a furious Maverick (3-9-2 overall, 2-7-2 WCHA) comeback, and got the game winner from sophomore Matt McKnight to claim a 4-3 victory.
“There’s no overtime goals that are pretty,” joked UMD coach Scott Sandelin.
Off a face off in the MSU zone, defenseman Jason Garrison took a shot from the point. The shot hit a Maverick defenseman and bounced right over to McKnight, who was camped out on the left side of the net.
“My stick was just on the ice, and (the puck) just kind of fumbled off my stick and rolled under the goalie,” McKnight said.
“I can’t say it was a planned play, that’s for sure.”
The goal capped a three-point effort for McKnight in the game. But it was UMD goalie Josh Johnson who gave McKnight the chance in overtime-with some help from the goal posts.
After the Mavericks had scored two straight goals to tie the game, MSU continued to pour the pressure on Johnson. In the final stretch of the third period, Minnesota State came very close to taking the lead.
Off a Joel Hanson shot, sophomore Austin Sutter hit the right post with his rebound attempt.
Moments later, on an MSU power play, Ryan Carter fired from the right side. Johnson deflected the puck with his glove before it hit the crossbar and the left post and bounced away.
Finally, in the closing seconds of regulation, Johnson stymied Travis Morin and Jon Dubel in the crease.
“I said it before the game,” Sandelin said. “I said it’s going to come down to a bounce. They had a couple great opportunities and a couple that hit the pipe. We got the lucky bounce. We walk out of here with two points.”
Johnson stopped 32 shots for UMD, as both teams tallied 35 on net in the game.
The Mavericks scored first in the game to take a 1-0 lead. MSU took advantage of a five-on-three power play that lasted 1:46. David Backes ripped a shot from the left side that hit the post and kicked out to Morin in the slot. Johnson lost the puck, and Morin easily scored 3:22 into the game.
UMD answered right back, scoring on its only power-play opportunity of the first. From the right side, Tim Stapleton sent a hard pass to the net. Jason Williams was driving to the goal and was able to get a stick on the pass and deflect it past MSU’s Dan Tormey at 10:05 of the period.
The Bulldogs slowly took the crowd out of the game and captured the lead at 3:44 of the second. Freshman Mason Raymond came into the zone on a partial breakaway with R.J. Linder attempting to defend. On a tremendous individual effort, Raymond dived forward and was able to poke the puck past Tormey for his seventh goal of the year.
Minnesota Duluth converted its second power play of the evening at 6:15 of the second. The puck was sent into the crease and bounced around before freshman Andrew Carroll crashed the net and jabbed the puck underneath Tormey to make it a 3-1 contest.
“We didn’t have a great second period, but Duluth’s a pretty good hockey team too,” said MSU coach Troy Jutting.
The Mavericks came back and cut the lead in half just 2:44 later. Carter, a sophomore, carried the puck in the slot and wristed a shot into the top right corner of the net for his sixth of the season.
MSU found the equalizer early in the third on the man-advantage. The Mavericks were the recipient of six straight power plays from the middle of the second period to the third period.
Steve Wagner took a shot from the point that deflected off players in front of the net. The puck bounced out to Carter on the right side, and Carter buried the puck into net at 3:09 of the period.
“The third was pretty scary,” McKnight said. “I think we got sitting back to much, but we also took some penalties that we had to kill off, and our killers did a pretty good job.”
Carter couldn’t finish the hat trick, and no other Maverick could beat Johnson or the metal posts behind him before McKnight’s OT heroics.
“I told our guys in the overtime, ‘That’s how crazy the game is. Without Josh, we’re probably going home with a loss. Instead you got five minutes to win the game.’ Luckily we got the bounce,” Sandelin said.
With the loss, the Mavericks fell four points behind UMD in the WCHA standings.
“It was a tough loss, but we don’t have any time to feel sorry for ourselves. We have to come back and be ready to play tomorrow night,” Jutting said.
The two teams will finish their conference series tomorrow night, with game time set for 7:05 p.m. C.T.
“Tomorrow they’re going to come out hard again. We’ve got to be able to play a better 60-minute hockey game,” McKnight said.