MANKATO, Minn. — When Justin Jokinen came to Minnesota State as a fourth-round NHL draft pick in 2008, he was expected to make an impact on the Mavericks offensive game.
Jokinen struggled through his first two seasons with only nine points but the junior found the right time to spark the MSU attack against St. Lawrence Friday night at the Verizon Wireless Center.
Down two goals after two periods, Jokinen scored to put the Mavericks down one and assisted on the game-tying goal exactly a minute later. Each team scored again and the game ended in a 5-5 tie.
“We knew we had to get a goal to get the momentum back our way,” said Jokinen, a fourth-line right-winger who was drafted by the Buffalo Sabres. “Coming into the season I feel a lot stronger and as a junior I need to contribute a lot more than I have been.”
Added MSU head coach Troy Jutting:
“Justin obviously played really well. Especially in the third period, he played extremely well.”
It was the Saints that controlled the scoreboard for the first two periods, taking a 1-0 lead when Pete Child goal tipped in a shot by Sean Flanagan seven minutes into the game.
Three minutes later, Andrew Sackrison’s pass behind the net intended for Joe Schiller was tipped out in front by an SLU defender and freshman Corey Leivermann was there to bat the puck out of the air past SLU goalie Robby Moss for his first career goal. It didn’t take long for SLU to regain the lead less than two minutes later on a Aaron Bogosian goal assisted again by the Flanagan brothers.
Michael Dorr tip-in goal on the power play tied the game midway through the second period but the Saints answered again with a Max Mobley goal five minutes later.
Each team received game misconducts for checking-from-behind penalties. SLU defenseman Matt Raley was ejected after he checked MSU’s Schiller into the endboards behind the Saints net with seven minutes left in the first period. MSU’s Leivermann was sent to the locker room early with a check from behind near the 15-minute mark of the second period.
Unlike MSU, which squandered its five-minute power play, the Saints let only six seconds run off the clock before they capitalized with a goal.
Sean Flanagan tipped a George Hughes shot past Cook at the 15-minute mark of the second period on the power play. It was SLU’s third power play goal of the night, leaving Jutting looking for answers on the penalty kill going into Saturday’s game.
“Our D was watching they’re guys shoot the puck and that’s what the goalie is supposed to do,” Jutting said. “The rest of our guys need to get a guy and obviously we did not do a very good job of that.”
For Sean Flanagan, it just feels good to get back on the ice after he missed last season with a hip injury that forced him to have surgery.
“I haven’t played in a long time so it was really fun to get back on the ice with the guys and play as hard as I can,” said Flanagan, a senior who had eight goals and 26 assists through 86 career games going into Friday. He left with two goals and two assists.
But it was the MSU offense that took over in the third period. Jokinen got a pass from Kurt Davis and went far post from the right circle to beat Moss 38 seconds into the third.
Jokinen had the puck a minute later behind the Saints net and fed it to a wide open Eli Zuck in the slot for the tying goal.
“Going into the third period we talked about getting our shots to the net,” Jokinen said. “We had a lot of good opportunities blocked and they were going to the corner.”
Mike Louwerse scored the go-ahead goal for MSU after the midway point of the third period when he beat Moss five-hole and the Mavericks hit a couple cross bars during the third but couldn’t get the insurance goal they needed.
With 3:54 to play in regulation, Hughes fired a shot from the point and the puck squirted out to Sean Flanagan on the edge of the crease and stuffed it to send the game to overtime.
“It was a good shot from the point and I was just trying to cause traffic in front of the net and I got my stick on it,” Sean Flanagan said.
Both teams will look to get in the win column Saturday night when they square off at 7:07 CST at the Verizon Wireless Center in Mankato.