GRAND FORKS, N.D. — North Dakota squandered an early three-goal lead and then held on for a 4-4 tie as visiting Minnesota State University-Mankato scored two extra-attacker goals in the final 1:13 of the game.
MSU coach Troy Jutting said he couldn’t remember the Mavericks ever scoring two goals in one game with the goalie pulled.
“It’s rare. It’s very rare,” he said.
Mavericks senior forward Travis Morin knocked in the rebound off a slapshot by defenseman Steve Wagner with only five seconds left in regulation to gain the tie.
“We just got a couple bounces,” Morin said of the game’s wild ending. “The puck bounced on our stick and we put it in.”
With 1:49 left in the game and the teams skating 4-on-4, Jutting called timeout and pulled goalie Mike Zacharias for a 5-on-4 advantage. The move paid off when, with 1:13 left, sophomore forward Jon Kalinski put the puck past UND goalie Philippe Lamoureux off the rebound of a slapshot by forward Joel Hanson to make it a 4-3 game.
“We were fortunate,” Jutting said. “In that situation, we can just run a power play. That’s all that is. It’s 5-on-4, you run your power play and try to make things happen.”
Although UND took seven of eight points in its four meetings with MSU, Sioux coach Dave Hakstol called the outcome “disappointing.” The Sioux built a three-goal lead in the first period and then gave up a two-goal lead with 3:15 left in the game.
“We’re not going to hang our heads and dwell on this,” he said. “If you sit back and dwell on this game at this time of year, it’s a waste of time. We’re going to look at some of the areas we have to get better in.”
Late in the third period, UND appeared to have the situation well in hand when Sioux sophomore forward Jonathan Toews scored his second goal of the game on the power play with 3:15 remaining,
“Obviously, at that point in time, it’s a tough situation” Jutting said. “But I give the kids credit. It would have been easy to roll over, but we didn’t.”
It would have been easy for the Mavericks to roll over after UND scored three unanswered goals in the first period.
Just 59 seconds into the first period, Sioux defenseman Robbie Bina attempted to feather a pass through to forward Chris Porter as he split the MSU defense. Mavericks defenseman R.J. Linder tied up Porter as he battled to control the rolling puck, which went in on goal.
Zacharias appeared to have it stopped, but backchecking MSU forward Kurtis Kisio bumped into the goalie, knocking the puck in and giving the Sioux a quick 1-0 lead.
Porter, who got credit for the goal, said, “I hit it with my stick and I have no idea what happened after that. I got spun around. I’ll take them any way they come.”
At 9:18, UND sophomore defenseman Taylor Chorney put the Sioux up 2-0 with his sixth goal of the season. After center Matt Watkins won a face-off in MSU’s zone, Chorney skated in on Zacharias untouched and fired in the puck from pointblank range.
Toews scored a goal that electrified the crowd of 11,637 to give UND a 3-0 lead that held to the end of the first period. Flying into the MSU zone, Toews put a move on an MSU defenseman Nick Coanzanello that left him flatfooted in the left circle. Toews then cut into the slot, moved the puck from his backhand to his forehand and fired it past Zacharias short side.
The second period saw the Mavericks come to life, controlling play in the Sioux stretches for long stretches. The hard work paid off when MSU capitalized on a 3-on-2 rush at 5:33. Freshman forward James Gaulrapp backhanded a pass to sophomore forward Mick Berge who fired a quick wrister from the near the right circle that beat Lamoureux.
“As soon as they got their first goal, they were certainly energized,” Hakstol said of the Mavericks. “They played extremely hard and extremely well from there on in.”
The third MSU power play goal of the weekend at 15:45 made it a 3-2 game. Just as it appeared UND would successfully kill an elbowing penalty to Kyle Radke, forward Zach Harrison hit Kael Mouillierat with a long pass from the MSU zone that sent him alone down the slot. His wrist shot beat Lamoureux cleanly, catching the top corner glove side to make it a one-goal game.
After tying the game in regulation MSU had one more opportunity to get the
win. Sioux defenseman Joe Finley was called for tripping Harrison to prevent
a breakaway with 1:01 left. But UND killed the penalty and held on to gain a
point and retain fifth place in the WCHA.
“We had opportunities to get the win, still,” Morin said. “That’s a little disappointing, but we’ll be happy with one point after the first period.”
Jutting said it would have been easy for the Mavericks playing with seven freshmen and without three players who received game disqualifications for fighting Friday to give up after falling behind early.
“I think it takes a lot of character to come back in this building down three goals against a very, very good hockey team,” he said. “It was a great tie for us.”
Porter noted that UND had several opportunities to put the Mavericks away, but didn’t capitalize on them.
“We’re playing pretty well, but we need to learn a lesson tonight,” Porter said. “We’ve got to close games out. We have been doing that, but we got a little lax after the first period. Guys played a little complacent. On a 3-0 lead, we’ve got to close games out. We can’t let teams back in.”
Although the Sioux haven’t swept an opponent at home since defeating Quinnipiac Oct. 6-7 in their season opener, Hakstol wasn’t bothered by not completing the sweep after winning Friday’s game 8-4.
“Points this time of year are tough to come by,” he said. “We got three out of four points. We’re not going to be negative about this. We’re going to put those points in the bank and we have to keep moving forward.”
UND stands at 10-9-3 in the WCHA and 16-11-3 overall. The Sioux are at home Feb. 16-17 for a two-game series with Minnesota-Duluth. MSU remains in eighth place in the WCHA with a 7-12-5 conference record (10-16-6 overall). The Mavericks travel to Alaska Anchorage Feb. 16-17 for a two-game series.