ST. CLOUD, Minn. — Here’s some number association. Three: the amount of goals scored by St. Cloud State in the third period in six WCHA games this season. Three is also the number of times the Huskies have blown third period leads.
SCSU led Nebraska-Omaha by a goal after two periods Saturday night, but the Mavericks scored twice and stole the lead. Travis Novak scored with 1:04 remaining to force the 4-4 tie at the National Hockey Center.
“We have to play with more consistency in the third period every weekend,” Novak said.
SCSU coach Bob Motzko was a little more direct. “I sure don’t like it. One of these weekends, hopefully we can start to string something together.”
The Mavericks finished the third period with a 14-3 advantage in shots on goal and tied the game 4:58 into the period.
UNO’s Andrej Sustr intercepted a pass in the defensive zone and found Matt White on the other side of the red line. White fired a shot over SCSU goaltender Mike Lee’s right shoulder for his sixth goal of the season.
The Mavericks took the lead 3:19 later when the Huskies got caught off-guard with all five skaters near the goal line, leaving Ryan Walters wide open in the slot. Walters beat Lee high blocker side.
“We just grind and grind and grind,” said UNO forward Matt Ambroz. “We have that no-quit attitude. It’s kind of our motto. Anytime we’re down, we know we have a chance.”
SCSU pulled Lee with a little more than a minute to go in the third period. With the extra attacker, Ben Hanowski fought to get the puck out of the corner and slid it back to Aaron Marvin behind the net. Marvin found Travis Novak on the goal mouth and Novak tipped the puck over UNO goaltender Josh Faulkner’s left shoulder.
“Before we went out there we said we’re going to tie this thing up,” Novak said. Marvin made a really nice pass out of the corner and all I had to do was get a stick on it.”
Each team had opportunities in the overtime period, with the Mavericks holding the shots-on-goal advantage 5-4.
Lee faced 36 shots and stopped 32 for the Huskies. Faulkner made 16 saves for the Mavericks.
After Friday’s sluggish offensive performance, the Huskies got on the board first Saturday, 3:25 into the first period.
SCSU’s Tony Mosey entered the UNO zone to Faulkner’s left on a two-on-one and found Jared Festler in the left circle. Festler beat Faulkner over Faulkner’s right shoulder for his fourth goal of the season.
The lead lasted a little more than five minutes when Brock Montpetit led a Mavericks rush into the Huskies zone and left a drop pass for Zahn Raubenheimer, who sniped a shot past Lee at 8:36.
After an 0-for-7 power play effort on Friday, the Huskies went 1:50 without a shot on their first power play Saturday until Taylor Johnson sent a shot through traffic that beat Faulkner.
The Huskies built a two-goal advantage when Drew LeBlanc was the last player to touch the puck in the UNO crease when it squirted across the goal line at 10:14 of the second period. Five minutes later, UNO scored amid a scrum in front of the Huskies goal. Ambroz got credit for the goal.
The goal came within the last two minutes of the second period, which made the goal all the more crucial, according to Ambroz.
“To a score a goal in the last two minutes of a period is important,” said Ambroz, who leads UNO in goals with seven. “Especially when we had that kind of deficit.”
The Mavericks remain undefeated in WCHA play (8-1-1, 5-0-1 WCHA) and host North Dakota at 7:37 (CST) Friday at the Qwest Center in Omaha. The Huskies (4-6-2, 2-3-1) travel to Alaska-Anchorage to face the Seawolves at 7:07 (AKST) in Anchorage, Alaska.