MANKATO, Minn. — Wherever Minnesota State’s urgency went Friday night at the Alltel Center, it found it just in time for Saturday’s WCHA game against Alaska-Anchorage.
Zach Harrison scored twice and the Mavericks scored three second-period goals to salvage a series split with the Seawolves in a 7-1 victory in front of 4,965 fans.
“A little passion and a little desire go a long way,” said Mavericks coach Troy Jutting. “I thought we played with a lot better sense of urgency tonight.”
After a sluggish and sloppy game Friday where the Mavericks lost to the Seawolves 4-2, Minnesota State capitalized on its opportunities to score seven goals for the first time since the 2005-06 season, three in each of the last two periods.
Discouraged by Friday night’s play, Jutting elected to play all of the healthy players Saturday that were scratched for Friday’s game, with the exception of a goaltender change which was already determined before the weekend.
“We’re just a little bit tired of waiting around for some older kids to play the way they should play,” he said. “Hopefully, they got the message.”
Leading 1-0 after a Geoff Irwin goal in the first period, Irwin cleared the puck midway through the second to finish a five-on-three penalty kill, when Seawolves netminder Jon Olthuis took the puck in the corner and attempted to make a cross-ice pass to a forward. Before the puck even made it to center ice, it was picked off by Harrison at the blue line, where he scored on a long wrist shot on the open net.
“Hockey is a game of momentum and that was a back-breaker for them,” Jutting said. “It was a big momentum boost for us.”
For Harrison, it was his first goal since his short-handed, natural hat trick against North Dakota in the Mavericks’ first conference game of the season.
“I saw that I had the open net; I just wanted to get a little closer to make sure I could get it in there,” Harrison said. “That’s got to be tough for a team to lose a goal like that.”
Mick Berge scored about five minutes later on a shot from the bottom of the left circle, beating Olthuis on a shot to the far-side of the net. Minutes later, it was a four-goal lead for the Mavericks when Brian Kilburg skated the puck nearly the length of the ice and behind the goal line until he hit Harrison with a centering pass for the goal at 15:22.
As if a four-goal deficit wasn’t bad enough for the Seawolves, they had to kill a five-on-three advantage for the first 48 seconds of the third period. Kael Mouillierat tallied his eighth goal of the season 30 seconds into the final period, scoring on a rebound from the doorstep.
“I think we just got away from our game plan,” Seawolves’ coach Dave Shyiak said. “We didn’t get pucks in deep, we were forcing plays on our power play and we were too predictable. If we don’t execute and play within our system, that’s whats going to happen.”
Paul Crowder scored the Seawolves’ lone goal at 15:07 of the third period on a power play to shatter Mike Zacharias’ bid at a shutout. Justin Jokinen and James Gaulrapp closed out scoring for the game, adding power-play goals in the final three minutes of the third.
Zacharias was making just his third start in the Mavericks’ last six games after starting 49 consecutive games, a streak that started last season and ended in late December. Dan Tormey started the other three games and was in net for Friday’s loss, but played well. Olthuis and Zacharias both made 24 saves.
“He looked like Mike Zacharias again,” Jutting said.
The Mavericks won the shot battle, 31-25, and were three-for-nine on their power play. The Seawolves were one-of-seven with a man advantage.
The Mavericks (11-11-3, 7-9-2 WCHA) play at Minnesota-Duluth next weekend, while Alaska-Anchorage (8-10-2, 5-9-2) travels to Minneapolis for a series with the Gophers.