MANKATO, Minn. — A broken stick, a little videotape, and an inch or two were a few things that kept Minnesota from scoring more than one goal Saturday. The Gophers peppered the Minnesota State net all night, but the biggest reason only one Minnesota shot crossed the goal line: MSU goaltender Phil Cook.
Cook stopped 49 shots to give the Mavericks another one-goal victory, 2-1, to complete the sweep against the Gophers, Saturday at the Verizon Wireless Center. It was the Mavericks’ fourth straight win and MSU has beaten Minnesota five times in the last six meetings.
“(Cook) played great and I don’t think we beat him on a clean shot all weekend,” said Gophers wing Jay Barriball, who was stopped twice by Cook on breakaway attempts. “Obviously, we have to start burying some pucks.”
Cook’s 49 saves set a new career high for the sophomore. He made 44 saves in a loss to Wisconsin last season.
But Cook admitted he may have received a little help from divine sources Saturday.
“The hockey gods were definitely on my side tonight,” Cook said. “You have to keep on even-keel. You have to have ice in your veins.”
Minnesota forward Nick Bjugstad broke his stick with Cook out of position on a one-time attempt six minutes into the game and with three minutes to go in the first period, Bjugstad had a goal disallowed. Video review confirmed Minnesota’s Nate Condon was in the crease and prevented Cook’s ability to stop Bjugstad’s shot.
Erik Haula was inches away from netting the game’s first goal when he tipped Cade Fairchild’s pass toward a wide-open net that hit the post.
“We had a ton of chances, and when you put 50 shots on net you have to give credit to their goaltender,” Fairchild said.
The Gophers dominated the first period and for most of the second period, had double the shots on goal MSU had.
“We only had about three kids show up to play the first period,” Minnesota State coach Troy Jutting said. “Thank God Phil was one of them.”
Minnesota finished the game with 50 shots on goal to MSU’s 32. Minnesota goalie Kent Patterson finished with 30 saves.
MSU began to pick up the pace midway through the second and Rylan Galiardi put the Mavericks on the board with 49 seconds left in the period. Chase Grant walked the puck in on Patterson and passed down low to Galiardi who took a few whacks at the puck until it crossed the goal line.
The Mavericks added the game-winner when defenseman Kurt Davis stole a pass at the red line and fired a slap shot past Patterson from the top of the left circle at the 8:59 mark of the third period. The Gophers came right back 39 seconds later when Mike Hoeffel’s shot took a bounce past Cook and Fairchild swatted it into the net at waist level.
But it was the way MSU finished the game that satisfied Jutting the most. Like Friday, the Mavericks had to defend a one-goal lead while they killed multiple penalties.
“We killed off a five-on-three last night and a four-on-three tonight against a really good power play,” Jutting said. “That’s the kind of hockey we normally play. I was very pleased with the effort, especially in the third period.”
But like Friday, Cook was on when it mattered the most.
“We knew they were going to come out with a flurry of shots but I was able to see the shots and control my rebounds,” said Cook, who stopped 22 shots in the third period Saturday.
MSU looks to extend its win streak against North Dakota Friday at 7:37 p.m. Friday and 7:07 p.m. Saturday at the Verizon Wireless Center. The Gophers host Minnesota-Duluth at 7 p.m. at Mariucci Arena.