ST. CLOUD, Minn. — In order to gain home ice in the first round of the WCHA playoffs, St. Cloud State needed a lot to go right. And for the Huskies, everything did go right outside of the National Hockey Center, including upsets by both Michigan Tech and Alaska-Anchorage.
But inside, a failed game plan against MSU-Mankato Friday night in St. Cloud, led to five goals within 20 minutes for the Mavericks, who took it to SCSU 5-1.
It was an embarrassing effort; we didnt play well at all, Huskies junior forward Ryan Lasch said after the game. For a playoff atmosphere that we are trying to establish, trying to play for home-ice, we played very soft.
After a fairly quite start to the first three-fourths of the first period, Mankato first lit the lamp at the 18:46 mark of the period. Freshman right winger Mike Louwerse nailed home a power-play goal, his 13th goal of the year, while assists were credited to junior Kael Mouillierat and senior captain Mick Berge.
Quiet play between the Huskies and Mavericks continued through the first eight minutes of the second period, until Mankato would find the back of the net on the power play once again. This time, sophomore Andrew Sackrison buried the biscuit past SCSU junior net minder Jase Weslosky at the 8:40 mark of the second. Assists were charted by junior forwards Trevor Bruess and Geoff Irwin.
The Mavericks then pushed their lead to three, just under two minutes later, as senior defender Brian Kilburg notched his first goal this season. Berge and sophomore center Rylan Galliardi were give assists on the even-strength goal.
The scoring for MSU didnt stop there, as the Mavs waited just a minute and 49 seconds to beat Weslosky again. Just as freshman defender Baylor Dieter exited the penalty box, Dieter collected a pass from the Mankato blue line and found Mouillerat streaking in on the rightwing, who was able to beat Weslosky five-hole.
After stopping just 20 of 24 MSU shots, Weslosky, the goalie of record for SCSU, was pulled for sophomore keeper Dan Dunn. The Huskies finally found the net four minutes later on the power play, as Lasch and sophomore Garrett Roe connected with junior captain Garrett Raboin for his tenth goal of the year.
But once again, Mankato wasted little time in finding the back of the net, as junior Zach Harrison tapped in an easy goal. After Irwin flipped the puck out of the MSU zone, Dunn raced out to the blue line to clear the puck back down into the Mankato end. Instead, Harrison was first to the puck, deked Dunn as the two met at the top of the circles and tapped in an easy goal into an empty Husky net.
In net for Mankato, senior Mike Zacharias was almost perfect on the evening, stopping 38 of 39 shots faced in gaining the win for the Mavericks.
We didnt play very well (at the National Hockey Center) last time up here, Zacharias said. This is a very fun building to come into and when you whoop up on (the Huskies) like we did tonight, it certainly makes it much more special.
The two teams now travel to Mankato for the completion of the home and home series. The Huskies and Mavericks faceoff in their final game of the WCHA season tomorrow night, as first puck drops at 7:07 p.m.