MANKATO, Minn. — Minnesota State’s Western Collegiate Hockey Association sweep over Alaska-Anchorage won’t win the Mavericks many beauty contests.
But for the second straight night, No. 15 MSU overcame a gritty bunch of Seawolves, building a 4-0 lead and holding on for a 4-2 win — its sixth consecutive victory.
The streak is the longest such roll for the Mavericks since the 2002-03 season. That season turned out all right — it was the last time the Mavericks hosted a first-round home game in the WCHA playoffs, made it to the Final Five, and made their only NCAA Tournament appearance.
“We won last night without our best performance,” MSU head coach Troy Jutting said. “Good teams don’t follow up a mediocre performance with a mediocre performance. I thought we did a good job tonight of responding and coming out and playing hard and fast.”
The Mavericks dominated the first period, outshooting the Seawolves 16-6 in the opening frame. But UAA freshman netminder Bryce Christianson stopped 15 of the shots, including a Geoff Irwin breakaway at the midway point of the period.
The lone goal came at 17:37 following a tremendous individual effort by MSU’s Zach Harrison. The sophomore gained control of the puck near the blue line in the offensive zone, deked to the outside around a defenseman and fired a wrister from the left circle that caromed off the far post and into the net. The goal was his fifth of the season. Irwin had the only assist.
The Mavericks pressure continued throughout the second period, too. MSU outshot the Seawolves 14-5 for a two period lead of 30-11. But once again, they were only able to slip one past Christianson.
“I was thinking their goalie was playing really good, it could have been 6-0,” Jutting said. “I was getting a little nervous because we had a couple of really good opportunities that we weren’t really cashing in on. Sometimes in a game like this, that will come back to bite you. Fortunately for us, it didn’t tonight.”
The only goal of the second came early, with Anchorage changing players. Jon Kalinski found Mick Berge streaking towards the Mavericks zone, putting a pass was right on the tape, Berge finished the breakaway by beating Christianson five-hole for his team-leading 15th of the season at 2:59. Blake Friesen had the second assist.
MSU was finally able to get a bit more breathing room early in the third.
The Mavericks went up three at 4:24 on a beautiful goal by Kael Mouillierat. Ben Youds floated a saucer pass cross-rink to Hanson, who fired back across the rink to Mouillierat at the left circle. He forced Christianson to commit then weaved around him and buried the puck in the net.
“I think I fumbled it a little bit,” Mouillierat said. “But after the first guy, I realized I was at a bad angle, so I just tried to go around him. I looked for [Trevor Bruess] in front of the net, but I looked up and saw the open net and I just put it in.”
Mouillierat added another goal off a scrum in front at 6:47 to make it 4-0.
The Seawolves didn’t quit, however, and finally beat Zacharias on a goal by Craig Parkinson at 8:16. Following a holding penalty, UAA cashed in again, this time on a power play marker by Josh Lunden at 10:05.
“As long as we didn’t lose our composure there, we were going to be fine,” Jutting said. “The kids did a good job of regaining their composure and playing the rest of the way.”
Anchorage had trouble pulling their goalie before finally getting him to the bench with under a minute to play. MSU kept the puck on the perimeter to hold on for their 15th win of the season.
“We made two mistakes in the third period,” Jutting said. “We turned the puck over that resulted in a goal. And we turned the puck over which resulted in a penalty, which resulted in a goal.
“But other than that, I thought we played a very good hockey game tonight.”
The win vaulted the Mavericks into the tie for eighth in the PairWise rankings with idle Minnesota-Duluth. The Mavericks are tied with Wisconsin for fourth place in the WCHA with 22 points — three points ahead of UMD.
“We’re definitely rolling right now,” Mouillierat said. “I think at the beginning of the year, we knew we were capable of this. It just wasn’t happening for us.”
Minnesota State (15-10-4 overall, 9-9-4 WCHA) will play a pair at the Kohl Center in Madison next weekend at the Kohl Center. Faceoff for both games is scheduled at 7:07 p.m.
Alaska-Anchorage (7-14-7, 3-14-5) will host St. Cloud State at Sullivan Arena.