MANKATO, Minn. — After allowing nine goals combined on Friday, Minnesota State sophomore Mike Zacharias and St. Cloud State senior Bobby Goepfert decided to put on a show for the 4,245 assembled at the Midwest Wireless Civic Center.
After 65 minutes, neither had flinched.
Zacharias stopped 29 shots to earn his first collegiate shutout, while Goepfert made 23 saves — including 4 in a frenzied overtime period — for his second shutout of the year as Minnesota State and No. 4 St. Cloud State skated to a scoreless draw Saturday night.
“That’s Bobby Goepfert,” said SCSU head coach Bob Motzko. “He’s been like that all year. He didn’t really have a chance on anything that he let in last night, so we weren’t concerned going forward and we knew he’d continue to come up big for us.”
“Mike didn’t have to make many spectacular saves tonight,” said Minnesota State coach Troy Jutting, “but that’s mostly because he was calm throughout and played his angles well. He played the way you want your goaltender to play every time he takes the ice.”
The first period was considerably more even than the shot chart would indicate. Although St. Cloud State outshot MSU 11-2 during the opening stanza, this was largely a difference in the teams’ early approach. The Huskies took many open shots at Maverick netminder Zacharias, few of which were much trouble for the sophomore. Minnesota State, on the other hand, was more deliberate with their shot selection. They only attempted seven shots for the entire first period, only two of which had to be dealt with by St. Cloud’s Goepfert.
Penalties tended to interrupt the early flow of the game as well, as referee Brian Thul called eight penalties during the first period, but neither team was able to cash in on their advantages. SCSU’s miserable power play showing from Friday night was carrying over, as the Huskies failed to score on four opportunities in the first. Mankato was unable to make anything of their two chances on the power play.
The second period was much faster paced than the first, but the result was the same — a deadlocked defensive battle. One penalty was called in the period, an interference penalty to MSU sophomore Mick Berge which St. Cloud again could not capitalize on. Minnesota State began to take more shots on net as they began getting more bodies in front of Goepfert than they had been able to during the first, but the SCSU goaltender stood tall, making 13 saves in the period, especially late as back-and-forth play created several decent scoring opportunities for both squads. Zacharias, on the other end, was equally impressive, stopping another 12 shots in the second period for 23 total saves through two, matching his total from all of Friday night.
The third was more of the same, and as the game began to reach its climax, both teams began pushing hard as it became apparent that the game’s first goal would likely be the only goal. Minnesota State drew two power-plays during the period, only to have both interrupted by penalties to forward Jon Kalinski. The most significant chances for the Mavericks in the third came after St. Cloud senior Casey Borer was called for hooking in the defensive zone. For the better part of the next 45 seconds, MSU turned their attacking zone into a shooting gallery, but the roughing call against Kalinski — his fourth penalty of the game — nullified the advantage.
The ensuing four-on-four favored the Huskies, and Mike Zacharias stood strong in net during the open ice session. St. Cloud would ring one off the post, but it would be the closest they would come to finding the net all night.
Mankato pushed for the overtime winner in the extra frame, but Goepfert stood taller in the last five minutes than he’d needed to be in regulation, making four key saves to maintain the shutout.
“It was an exciting game tonight,” said Jutting. “Both teams played well. We created some opportunities to score goals and Bobby Goepfert did a very nice job, just as they had their chances and Mike Zacharias had a great game.”
Minnesota State was 0-for-4 on the man advantage, but St. Cloud State’s 0-for-7 display added to an already disappointing 2-for-9 showing from Friday night.
“It cost us again tonight,” said Motzko. “Our sharpshooters didn’t come through for us tonight. We had some point blank chances, but we ran out of gas.”
It was the second 0-0 tie in both schools’ Division I history. Minnesota State last participated in a scoreless game in November 2003 at home against Michigan Tech. St. Cloud State’s last 0-0 game was in November 1997 at home against Alaska-Anchorage.
“First career shutout and I don’t even get the win,” said Zacharias. “After last night, I think [Goepfert and I] both knew it would be important to step up tonight and that we’d have a defensive game. I think we both just came out and did what we needed to do to win. Any time you can take three points from the number-four team in the country, you’ll always take it.”
“It doesn’t feel like a shutout,” said Goepfert. “I’ve heard of scoreless ties before, but I’ve never seen one or played in one myself.”
St. Cloud State finishes the final two games of their five-of-six homestand at the National Hockey Center next weekend against Minnesota-Duluth.
“We still feel the same as we did while we were on that streak,” said Goepfert, referencing the Huskies’ 15-game unbeaten streak that was snapped on Friday. “We’re looking forward to Duluth now, and that’s the way it was then, we just kept looking ahead to the next weekend.”
Minnesota State begins the first of three consecutive games on the road by traveling to Omaha, Neb. for the second leg of the Maverick Cup series with Nebraska-Omaha on Tuesday.
“It’s not a lot of time for turn-around, but we have to be ready to play,” said Jutting. “This was a hard fought series, no question, and it makes it difficult to have a game down there in two days, but we’ll get rested up and we’ll be ready.”