MANKATO, Minn. — Bad passing, errant stickhandling and overall sloppy play plagued Minnesota State against American International Friday night and somehow it didn’t even cost the Mavericks in the end.
MSU did just enough, getting a first period goal from Rylan Galiardi in a 1-0 win at the Verizon Wireless Center.
The Mavericks have now won seven of their last nine games dating back to Nov. 28, but Galiardi was insistent his team’s effort Friday can only be an isolated incident.
“A win is good but most nights we look at effort whether we win or lose,” said Galiardi, whose goal was his sixth of the season. “Sometimes it’s nice at the end of the day, even if we didn’t win, if you can look each other in the eye and know you gave it 100 percent. Whether we won or lost tonight, I don’t think we can say that.”
The Mavericks, who won the Shillelagh Tournament last week, played a sloppy first period filled with offsides and Icing calls that interrupted MSU from building momentum.
“I don’t think we were sharp in the first period but there were too many opportunities to not get the job done tonight,” said MSU head coach Troy Jutting. “I’m just disappointed as a whole. (AIC) made it difficult on us in some ways and that’s when you have to play hard and we didn’t do that.”
MSU got its first power play near the end of the first period and just 11 seconds after AIC’s Jeff Ceccacci went off for tripping, Rylan Galiardi tipped Kurt Davis’ shot from the blue line past AIC goaltender Ben Meisner at 17:28 of the first period.
It wasn’t that the Mavericks weren’t getting their chances. MSU forced Meisner to make 51 saves while Mavericks goalie Phil Cook only had to make 17 saves for his second career shutout and first of the year. MSU had a potential goal waved off in the second period when he rang a shot off the far post. The officials determined the puck never crossed the line.
“We had 52 shots and only score one goal. Are you kidding me?” said Jutting, whose team had 22 shots on goal in the second period with nothing to show.
The Yellow Jackets didn’t come with a lot of pressure to get the equalizer in the third period, only getting one shot on goal.
Galiardi said a performance similar to Friday’s game will have a much different result when sixth ranked Denver comes to Mankato on Jan. 14 and 15.
“We’ll be worried if we come out the same way tomorrow,” Galiardi said. “The reason we’re not happy is because if we play the same way in a bigger game, it’s not going to be enough. To be consistent, you have to play your best every night and tonight wasn’t our best.”
The teams will complete the series at 7:07 p.m. Saturday at the Verizon Wireless Center.