MANKATO, Minn. — On a night to pay tribute to Minnesota State’s senior class, it was the underclassmen who propelled the Mavericks to a stunning 6-4 win over Colorado College and series sweep of the Tigers – MSU’s first such accomplishment over CC since the 1999-2000 season.
Joel Hanson scored two goals, while freshmen Kael Mouillierat, James Gaulrapp and Trevor Bruess all lit the lamp to fuel the Mavericks, who finish the regular season with a 7-3-3 record over their final 13 games.
“Last night it was our big line that came through,” said Mavericks head coach Troy Jutting. “Tonight, it was our younger kids.”
MSU (13-17-6 overall, 10-13-5 WCHA) started senior Chris Clark in net, and things looked rough for the Mavs early on. Scott McCulloch slipped a weak backhand shot past MSU goaltender Chris Clark at 2:32 to give the Tigers an early 1-0 lead. Jack Hillen earned the only assist.
Both teams played a mediocre opening 20 minutes, with CC out-shooting MSU by only a 6-2 margin.
“We weren’t able to take advantage of their play in the first period,” said Tigers head coach Scott Owens. “They had a goalie in there that hadn’t played in a long time and we needed to make it a 2-0 game.”
“6-2 in shots, that’s not a CC-Mankato game,” Jutting added. “It was kind of a weird start for both teams. Usually it’s a wide open, up-and-down the ice game.
“Neither team was on top of their game.”
But the Mavericks took control in the second.
Mouillierat slid the puck between the post and the left leg pad of CC goalie Matt Zaba at 7:20 to tie the game at one.
MSU took its first lead of the game on a goal by Hanson at 18:19. The junior took an initial shot from the slot that was stopped by Zaba. But before he could cover the puck with his glove, Hanson poked the puck between his legs for his 13th goal of the season.
Just over a minute later, Stewart intercepted a neutral zone pass and after drawing a holding penalty, Stewart spearheaded a 2-on-1 with fellow freshman James Gaulrapp. Stewart fed a pass to the left circle where Gaulrapp was waiting, who slid the puck along the ice and past Zaba at 19:31.
“Those are the ones that broke our back,” Owens said. “They had a strong second period and we were hanging in there. But that took the wind right out of our sails.”
1:41 into the third, Hanson scored his second goal of the game after Zaba stopped another initial chance. While on power play, Travis Morin took a shot that hit Zaba in the chest. But like his first goal, Hanson found the puck on Zaba’s pad and put the puck in the net before a whistle.
“They were garbage goals tonight,” Hanson said. “It felt good to get them, actually. I was just there in the right place at the right time tonight.”
A Morin goal at 4:25 ended Zaba’s night, as the senior captain and Hobey Baker Award candidate scored the Mavs’ second power play goal of the period. It was his 17th goal of the season.
“I think it’s a fitting way to go out,” Morin said. “That’s the way I wanted to go out: get a win and contribute like I have throughout my career.”
A Scott Thauwald tally 33 seconds later narrowed the gap to 5-2 but the three-goal deficit didn’t last long.
Bruess, picked up the puck at the CC blue-line, swiftly moved around a defenseman and rifled a wrist shot past Drew O’Connell at 8:16.
“We turned the puck over way too many times tonight and they are very good in transition,” Owens said. “We were very careless with the puck and they have some offensive weapons.”
CC (16-15-3, 12-12-1) scored a pair of goals in the final 10 minutes and had a couple of opportunities to pull closer with an empty net, but was unable to capitalize.
“Our backs were up against the wall and we didn’t get it done,” Owens said. “We have put ourselves in a very bad situation right now.”
Minnesota State will take next weekend off and prepare for its first round playoff opponent while Colorado College – assisted by a Michigan Tech sweep of Wisconsin – will look to nail down home-ice advantage in a home-and-home series with rival Denver.
Friday’s face-off is scheduled for 7:37 MST at Magness Arena in Denver. The Tigers and Pioneers will play Saturday at World Arena in Colorado Springs, Colo.