MANKATO, Minn. — Minnesota State had been working on its power play all week in practice.
And after Friday nights 3-1 MSU victory over No. 10 Wisconsin, it was apparent the hard work paid off.
The Mavericks (5-6-2, 3-6-2 in the WCHA) used a pair of power-play goals in the second period to pull away from the Badgers (7-7-1, 4-5-0 in the WCHA) in front of 4,121 fans at the Alltel Center.
Wisconsin got things started on a goal by Kyle Turris just 1:07 into the game. The freshman fired a wrist shot past MSU netminder Mike Zacharias to give Wisconsin an early 1-0 lead. Ben Street earned the only assist.
But the Badgers only lead of the night was short-lived.
Jon Kalinski won the ensuing face-off back to defenseman R.J. Linder. Linder dished to Geoff Irwin, who found Mick Berge on the blue-line. Berge drove to the slot and fired a wrister past UW goalie Shane Connelly at 1:20.
There was so much time, I didnt think it was a big deal, said Wisconsin head coach Mike Eaves.
Mavericks head coach Troy Jutting saw the goal differently.
It was huge, Jutting said. We got to answer right away, and instead of being a downer for us, it turned out to be a positive.
It was a big-time play.
MSUs special teams took over in the second.
Geoff Irwins second goal of the season came as a MSU power-play was expiring. Rylan Galiardi and Nick Canzanello earned assists.
Almost four minutes later, Galiardi found some power-play glory of his own.
The Mavericks had controlled play in the Badger zone for almost two minutes when Linder took a shot from the blueline. Galiardi put his stick out and deflected the puck past Connelly at 9:38 to give MSU a two-goal cushion.
The goal was Galiardis second goal this season.
Coach [Eric] Means and Jutting have been all over us trying to get us to work on certain things, Galiardi said. It just worked out.
It was a play we had been working on all week, and it worked exactly how we designed it.
From there, the Mavericks penalty kill took over.
At the end of the second period, UW had their first attempt with a two-man advantage. But Joel Hanson and Jon Kalinski ” both known for their offensive ability ” were on the ice for the entire 1:14 span of five-on-three.
The Mavericks fell victim to the two-referee system with just over six minutes to play in the game. Brian Kilburg was called for a roughing call near the blue-line. As the puck cycled to the opposite corner, Galiardi was whistled for interference. The calls both came at 13:29 and gave UW a two minute, two man advantage.
Hanson and Kalinski played again were on the ice for the entire kill and kept the Badgers off the board.
Joel, Jon and R.J. ” two seniors and a junior, Jutting said. Those are the guys that have done it before. Joel has killed penalties for us for four years, and so has R.J. They have seen a lot. I think that makes a big difference.
Theyve got some talented kids, Jutting said. I thought we did a good job.
The Mavericks also did a solid job of keeping Turris off the board after his early goal.
He did a lot of good things tonight, but if you talk to him, hed be a little disappointed he didnt do more, Eaves said. Thats the sign of a player who is not satisfied ” he had a goal but he wanted to do more for his team.
Eaves indicated special teams as the key to the game.
Look at the stats, Eaves said. The shots were 30-30. The face-offs were 28-28. The difference was the specialty teams ” their special teams beat our special teams.
With the win, MSU jumped into a sixth-place tie in the WCHA standings with Wisconsin and Minnesota ” which dropped a 4-2 decision to UND Friday in Grand Forks.
MSU and UW will play the return game of the series Saturday night at Alltel Center in Mankato. Face-off is scheduled for 7:07 p.m.