DULUTH, Minn. — Defense one night, offense the next. That spelled sweep for Minnesota Duluth against Minnesota State Mankato in a Western Collegiate Hockey Association men’s series at the DECC.
The No. 13 Bulldogs scored four goals in the final nine minutes Saturday in an impressive rally to beat Mankato 7-4 before an announced crowd of 5,387, the first official sellout of the season. The night before UMD won 4-0 and now has a season-high four straight wins.
UMD (13-7-6 and 7-6-5 in WCHA) scored twice in 53 seconds and three goals in 2:32 to put away Mankato (11-13-3 and 7-11-2) in the third period. The Bulldogs recorded the final five goals of the game after falling behind 4-2 in the second period.
“We were having success all weekend by cycling the puck and getting bodies in front of the net. We didn’t panic when we were behind, because for much of the game we thought we were dictating play,” said UMD senior winger Matt Greer, who had the winning goal. “This was such an important game because we had a chance to put a team behind us in the league standings.”
UMD is sixth in the WCHA, three points ahead of Mankato. The Bulldogs are 9-1-3 at home and 9-3-2 the last 14 games overall. Mankato is 3-10 in December and January.
Yet the Mavericks scored three goals in the first nine minutes of the second period, two on power plays and one short-handed, for a two-goal lead. UMD got a boost later in the period when defenseman Mike Montgomery gained his first collegiate goal, scoring on a power play.
Then the third period, although it took a while, belonged to the Bulldogs, who outshoot Mankato 20-8 and 40-31 for the game.
“We got outworked down low, and we got beat one-on-one, especially in front of our net, and that cost us,” said Mankato coach Troy Jutting. “We killed two penalties early in the third period and, even though Duluth didn’t score, they started building some momentum.”
UMD senior winger Andrew Carroll found himself in a two-on-one shift and looked to pass, but Mankato defended the opportunity. So Carroll drove a shot from the right side that beat Mankato goalie Dan Tormey to the near side with 8:28 to play. That tied it 4-4. Moments later, Greer tipped a Brady Lamb shot into Tormey and the rebound came to Greer’s stick for a goal with 7:35 left.
The attack continued, as freshman Mike Connolly scored from the crease with 5:56 remaining. UMD led 6-4 and the Mavericks were reeling. Jordan Fulton added an empty-net goal with 33 seconds to go. UMD had its most goals in a WCHA home game since beating Mankato 8-3 on Oct. 22, 2004.
“We were kicking ourselves because we gave up three power-play goals, but we just wanted to go forward and keeping putting on pressure, especially in that third period,” said Carroll, a UMD tri-captain with Greer and Josh Meyers (who also had a goal).
Junior center Kael Mouillierat was Mankato’s catalyst with two goals, on the power play and while short-handed, in the second period. UMD freshman center Jack Connolly sparked UMD early with a goal and two assists, as UMD had leads of 1-0 and 2-1. When UMD needed big saves down the stretch, Alex Stalock, the WCHA’s top-ranked goalie, was solid.
“We became unraveled in the second period and were running all over the place,” said UMD coach Scott Sandelin. “We just needed to settle down and work to get that first goal. We had to get pucks deep and get pucks to the net. We had to attack.”
The Bulldogs play at No. 16 Wisconsin on Friday and Saturday in Madison, Wis. The Badgers were off this weekend.