MANKATO, Minn. — After Denver came back to tie Minnesota State Friday night, Pioneers coach Geroge Gwozdecky talked about his team’s ability to play from behind.
Saturday night, DU came back from three goals down and beat the Mavericks 4-3 in overtime at the Verizon Wireless Center. Junior Dustin Jackson scored 19 seconds into overtime on assists from Kyle Ostrow and Anthony Maiani.
“There’s no fear in being in those types of positions amongst those teams and we’ve shown that all year,” Gwozdecky said. “To give a three-goal lead to a team like MSU with the way they’re playing is set up for failure. Once we got our second goal, you could tell in [MSU's] body language that they didn’t have an answer for our physical play.”
The Pioneers were down 3-0 until Beau Bennett put the Pioneers on the board with MSU’s Rylan Galiardi just leaving the penalty box 4:30 into the second period. Bennett one-timed Nick Shore’s pass across the slot past MSU goaltender Phil Cook.
MSU maintained a two-goal lead until midway through the third period when DU scored two quick goals to tie the game.
Bennett threw a puck into traffic and it deflected off Shore and into the net with 8:29 left in regulation two pull the Pioneers within one goal. Two minutes later, DU’s John Lee sent an outlet pass from deep in the DU zone to Jason Zucker at center ice. Zucker skated around the MSU defense on his backhand and pulled it back to his forehand and beat Cook’s glove.
“We started slow in both games, but we have to give them credit,” Shore said. “As the game went on, we were finally able to do some of the stuff we wanted to do and we got out with a win.”
The Pioneers ended the game as quickly as the OT period started. DU won the faceoff and got the puck deep behind the MSU goal. Ostrow got the puck below the goal line to Cook’s right and centered it for Jackson, whose shot hit the right post and went in.
“It’s not the way we wanted to do it but we’ve been really good at coming back lately,” Bennett said. “It shows the heart and emotion of our team.”
The Pioneers are now unbeaten since Dec. 4, when they lost at Minnesota-Duluth. It was the same weekend DU lost Bennett to a knee injury. Bennett told the DU coaches Friday morning he was ready to play and played both nights.
“It was definitely nice to get back into it and help the team win,” Bennett said. “I struggle watching the team from the seats. You always want to be out there helping the team.”
MSU scored the first goal like it did Friday. Mavericks forward Chase Grant picked off a pass in the Pioneers zone and DU’s John Lee fell to the ice on his own, allowing Grant to walk in and beat Adam Murray high stick side 5:12 into the game.
“When we got involved in our forecheck and moved our feet it was very critical,” said MSU coach Troy Jutting. “It wore them down and kept our momentum going.”
MSU went up 2-0 when Channing Boe took a shot from the left circle that was tipped in front of the net and hopped over Murray’s glove 1:52 into the second period. Just 49 seconds later, Andrew Sackrison worked the puck out of the corner to Murray’s left and passed it out to Eriah Hayes, all alone in the slot and Hayes beat Murray.
Jutting believed MSU lost the game in the third period when his team failed to convert on chances.
“We let them off the hook in the first five minutes of the third period,” Jutting said. “We had three or four chances to make it 4-1 and we did not do that. When you make it 4-1 at that point in the game, you have the momentum and knock them down a peg.”
The loss was MSU’s first since Dec. 12 to North Dakota. The Mavericks are 8-3-1 in their last 12 games.
Cook finished with 26 saves and Murray had 24.
The Mavericks begin a four-game road stretch against Wisconsin at 7:07 p.m. (CST) Friday in Madison, Wis. The Pioneers host Alaska-Anchorage next weekend.