MANKATO, Minn. — Not in a long time after a three-point weekend against a top-10 team has a Minnesota State team looked so solemn.
The Mavericks struck early but gave up a goal late as MSU and No. 10 Wisconsin skated to a 1-1 tie Saturday in front of 4,645 fans at the Alltel Center.
“I thought we outplayed them and we had more chances than they did,” said Mavericks’ sophomore forward Trevor Bruess. “We got caught with a couple penalties, but we just didn’t capitalize on our opportunities.
“It seems like we should have won this game. It almost feels like a loss.”
MSU head coach Troy Jutting wasn’t as critical, but his demeanor said otherwise. Instead, the eighth year head coach accentuated the positives.
“I thought we did a good job of killing penalties,” Jutting offered afterwards. “We had some chances where we didn’t score, but so did they.”
Indeed, missed opportunities have been an ongoing theme for MSU this season.
During Saturday’s first period, for example, the Mavericks outshot the Badgers 16-7 and had a handful of quality chances.
“Keep working and keep getting chances,” Jutting said when asked what he tells his players. “They’ll go.”
MSU’s only goal of the night took advantage of the first of a couple lucky bounces.
Bruess made an excellent outlet pass from the wall in the neutral zone to Joel Hanson. Hanson’s wrist shot from the right circle was stopped by Wisconsin netminder Shane Connelly, but the rebound deflected off of UW defenseman Jamie McBain’s skate and into the net at 3:41.
“[Hanson] just came off the bench and I saw him cutting to the net, so I just passed it to him,” Bruess said. “He took the shot and it just trickled into the net.”
Neither team scored a goal in the second, but there were three breakaways ” two for MSU.
Bruess had the first, but gained control of the puck late in his rush. His move beat Connelly, but his backhand shot missed wide. Kyle Turris was up next with a chance on a power-play, but his wrister caromed off the post. Minutes later, Jon Kalinski broke free down the left side and aimed for the top-corner on the short side, but his shot missed high and wide.
Wisconsin finally got on the scoreboard early in the third.
After a hooking penalty on MSU’s Ryan Gunderson, the Badgers took over on a power-play. Just seconds after defenseman Kyle Klubertanz rang another shot off the post, McBain blasted a slapper over Zacharias’ glove at 3:37. Turris and Ben Street had the assists.
The power-play goal ended MSU’s streak of 29 consecutive successful penalty kills.
The goal was critical for Wisconsin, which had struggled to find any consistent offense all weekend. Before the game, Badgers’ coach Mike Eaves changed his lines in an effort to try something new.
“I was just trying to find us a spark,” Eaves said. “I think that when you’re not scoring a lot of goals, you have to do that.”
The Badgers had another chance in regulation to score the game-winner, but for the third time in the weekend, MSU killed off an extended two-man advantage.
“Three extended five-on-threes on the weekend, our kill was very good,” Jutting said.
Kalinski had the best chance for either team in overtime, as the junior led a short-handed two-on-one, but Kalinski, who had been on the ice for the entire kill attempt, was simply out of gas. His initial shot was stopped by Connelly, and Wisconsin cleared the zone.