MANKATO, Minn. — A few clanks off the post in the other direction and Saturday night’s game between Minnesota State and Bemidji State might have been a lot different.
The Mavericks, however, were the first to capitalize on their opportunities and took the momentum and the game, 4-2, at the Alltel Center in front of 4,174 people.
After a scoreless first period, the Beavers hit the post on two separate occasions in the second and had plenty of good shots during their power plays, but still couldn’t convert.
“If we convert on that two-on-one where Ryan Cramer hits the pipe or when Cody Bostock hits the pipe, who knows,” said BSU Coach Tom Serratore. “But we played well, we played really well. We were a better hockey team tonight and that’s the bottom line.”
Midway through the second, while the Mavericks were on a penalty kill, BSU’s Matt Read lost the puck at the point and Geoff Irwin took off the other way on a breakaway, but was taken down by Ben Kinne on a hold. Irwin received a penalty shot and, after beating BSU goalie Orlando Alamano on his initial move, Alamano threw his glove out to stop Irwin’s shot the keep the game scoreless.
“I thought it was a fantastic move and I think the goalie made even a better save,” said MSU head coach Troy Jutting.
Just after Irwin’s penalty shot, Zach Harrison gave the Mavericks their first lead of the game at 14:40. Harrison won the face off to Rylan Galiardi, who shot the puck toward the net. After it deflected off a BSU player, Harrison put it in.
“When Harrison scored it definitely got the bench going,” said MSU sophomore defenseman Kurt Davis. “To finally get that first one, it settled everyone down a little bit and you could play a little more comfortable.”
Davis then got in on the scoring himself in the third period, giving the Mavericks a 2-0 lead on a five-on-three advantage. MSU moved the puck throughout their offensive zone, something they did well on the power play all night, and Mick Berge hit Davis at the point, who fired a slap shot over Alamano’s glove at 5:09.
Jason Wiley gave MSU a 3-0 lead midway through the third when he knocked in a rebound from the slot off a Berge shot.
The Beavers, however, made the game interesting, scoring two goals in the last three minutes, and were down one with just 1:45 left to play.
Shea Walters scored the first at 17:48 off a rebound and Tyler Scofield made it a one-goal game with his tally at 18:15. Read was behind the net and found Scofield in the slot, who beat MSU netminder Mike Zacharias.
“I thought it was a gutsy effort at the end when we not only scored the first one but we played with a little intensity and got the second one,” Serratore said.
After an icing call, and with an extra attacker on the ice, the Beavers won the face off in their offensive zone with less than a minute to play, but a turnover led to Berge having an easy shot into the empty net, which was aided in by Irwin for the goal at 19:36. Berge and Trevor Bruess picked up assists. Berge had three assists in the game.
Alamano made 33 saves in the contest, while Zacharias stopped 29 shots. Zacharias stopped 15 shots on the penalty kill, leaving the Beavers scoreless on all nine power play opportunities.
“I thought Mike played extremely well for us,” Jutting said. “We didn’t play a great game, he played a great game.”
The Mavericks begin their season 2-0 for the first time since 1998 and open Western Collegiate Hockey Association play next weekend, hosting North Dakota Friday and Saturday at the Alltel Center. BSU (0-2) will play two non-conference away games against Air Force.