MANKATO, Minn. — So far, so good for the first Minnesota State goaltending situation.
Playing their first game in over two years sans stalwarts Mike Zacharias and Dan Tormey, Austin Lee stopped 18 shots in his first-ever regular season game to lead the Mavericks to a 3-2 nonconference victory against Bowling Green Friday night at Verizon Wireless Center.
I thought Austin did a nice job, said Mavericks coach Troy Jutting. I didnt think he was tested real hard but I thought he did a nice job.
Lee wasnt challenged much as the Mavericks blueliners did a good job of slowing the Falcons offense, but did make a few big saves to keep momentum with the home team, including a sprawling stop on a one-timer midway through the third period to keep the game 3-1.
Great defense, Lee, a redshirt sophomore said. [There was] a lot of blocked shots out there and not a lot of close-in shots, which is amazing for a goalie.
Lee would have allowed just one goal in his debut if not for a shot from the point that went through traffic by Kyle Page with just two seconds left in the game.
Minnesota State had a lot more scoring chances than Bowling Green did, but couldnt convert on most of them. The Mavericks outshot the Falcons 35-20, including a 16 shot second period by the Mavericks.
Ton of them, said Jutting of the Mavericks scoring chances. We got to do a better job when we get quality opportunities.
Jerad Stewart scored the games first goal with a shot from the top of the right circle that bounced off Bowling Green netminder Nick Enos glove and into the back of the net at 7:14 of the first. Geoff Irwin made it 2-0 when he scored on a rebound with less than a minute left in the first period.
Zach Harrison received the first assist on Irwins goal. Harrison took the puck at the goal line and made a move on a defender to get to the crease and force a shot, where Irwin was waiting to shelf the rebound.
The Falcons came within one late in the second when Jordan Samuels-Thomas fed a perfect pass to Tomas Petruska from the blue line. Petruska was breaking toward the net and backhanded a shot over Lees glove to make it 2-1 after two periods.
Mike Louwerse scored the game winner at 4:44 of the third as the Mavericks were just finishing a power play. Louwerse skated to the slot and was knocked to the ground by contact but was able to fling the puck toward Eno in net, where it bounced through the goaltenders legs for a 3-1 lead.
Eno finished with 32 saves and kept the game close despite a number of good scoring chances from the Mavericks.
Our goaltender played very well, which is great to see, said Bowling Green interim coach Dennis Williams. He missed most of last year and only played five games with a high ankle sprain. He worked hard this offseason to come back and hes really been playing well and with confidence.
Bowling Green didnt make it any easier for itself in trying to erase a two goal deficit in the third. The Falcons were on the penalty kill four times in the final period, and didnt get a man advantage until there was 1:35 left to play, a power play in which they scored on with two seconds left in the game.
The Mavericks and Falcons finish the series at 7:07 p.m. on Saturday.
The Falcons will also get senior forwards Kai Kantola and James Perkin back, who were out of the lineup because of an NCAA-mandated suspension for fighting in last years regular-season finale against Ohio State.
Those are two guys that play on our first power-play unit, Williams said. We dont make excuses because we have other guys who can step in and they did a nice job for us, but to get those two back [Saturday] is a big plus.