MANKATO, Minn. — It was a matter of time before special-teams play showed up for North Dakota.
Heading into Saturday night’s game at the Alltel Center, the Fighting Sioux were 1 for 22 on the power play, and had three shorthanded goals scored against them Friday night by Minnesota State.
Saturday, however, UND scored three power-play goals within six minutes and added a shorthanded tally by Chris VandeVelde with 8.6 seconds left in the third period for the game winner, edging the Mavericks 4-3.
“We’ve been struggling on the power play and it’s nice to see us have some success there,” VandeVelde said. “Once we got one they kind of kept coming. It was a big game for us, a big win, and I think we deserve it.”
Special teams seemed to be the trend all weekend, as the Mavericks netted three shorthanded goals and one power-play goal Friday night. Saturday ended with four special teams goals for UND — all in the third period.
“Last night we won the special-teams battle; tonight they did,” MSU head coach Troy Jutting said.
The Mavericks picked up right where they left off the night before, taking the early lead at 1:31 of the first on a behind-the-back backhanded pass from Andy Sackrison to Jason Wiley.
Trevor Bruess made it a 2-0 lead midway through the second on a power-play goal, finding the open net on the doorstep from Kael Mouillierat and Mick Berge.
With less than 11 minutes left in the game, the Mavericks were up 2-0 and holding UND’s power play scoreless on eight chances, and eyeing a 2-0 WCHA record. But just six minutes later, MSU was down one.
“We took a couple of selfish penalties tonight and that really ended up getting us,” Jutting said.
Andrew Kozek knocked in his first goal of the season off a rebound and 1:09 seconds later Ryan Duncan tied the game with his first goal of the season.
A few minutes later at 14:42, on yet another power play, Ryan Martens put UND ahead for the first time since the opening minutes Friday night.
“They’re good players,” Jutting said. “You’ve got the Hobey Baker winner [Ryan Duncan] out on the ice. You’re not going to shut them down forever.”
Bruess added his second goal of the game less than a minute later with a wrist shot from the slot, and the teams traded power-play chances for the last few minutes of the period.
MSU caught a break when Duncan was called for a hold on MSU defenseman Brian Kilburg behind MSU’s net, and with 1:26 left in regulation, the Mavericks were on a power play.
During the final seconds of the third period VandeVelde hauled in the puck along the boards and somehow got around MSU defenseman Kurt Davis to squeeze the puck past goalie Mike Zacharias. And with 8.6 seconds left, UND could smell its first win of the young season.
“I think I kind of surprised them,” VandeVelde said. “I was at the end of a shift on a 1-on-2 and I was going slow but then I just got to the outside around them and somehow it went in.”
Added UND coach Dave Hakstol: “He’s such a big strong body and when he gets a step on somebody coming in off his off wing like that, he’s a tough guy to stop,” he said. “That was a big time play.”
Brad Eidsness earned his second career win in net, making 25 saves. Zacharias stopped 37 shots in his first loss of the season.
MSU (3-1, 1-1 WCHA) and UND (1-3, 1-1) are both off next weekend.
“We’ve been on kind of a slide here and that first win is huge for us,” VandeVelde said. “But we got a greasy road win there.”