LOVELAND: Minnesota State rallies to gain first-ever NCAA tournament win with OT victory over Quinnipiac

Minnesota State players mob Ryan Sandelin after his OT winner knocked out Quinnipiac in a 4-3 win Saturday night (photo: Minnesota State Athletics).

LOVELAND, Colo. — A goal by Ryan Sandelin 11:13 into overtime capped a dramatic comeback as Minnesota State defeated Quinnipiac 4-3 to advance to the West Regional final against the winner of Minnesota versus Omaha.

The Mavericks trailed by two goals with less than six minutes left in the game before mounting their comeback win.

On the winner, Sandelin picked up a loose puck in the crease and lifted it over Quinnipiac goaltender Keith Petruzzelli’s right pad. Brendan Furry started the play with a hard drive toward the net down the right side, getting off a shot from the slot that Petruzzelli stopped, but he lost sight of the puck, leading to Sandelin’s goal.

“Furry made a great move cutting to the middle,” said Sandelin. “Reggie (Lutz) made a great play to just throw it to the front and I was thinking hopefully it would just pop out. Luckily it went off a guy’s skate right onto the netminder’s pad. All I had to was kind of jam it in. Pretty great play by Furry to get it to the middle and just get a puck to the net; that’s kind of the name of the game in OT.”

The Bobcats started well, scoring just three minutes into the game on a goal by Odeen Tufto, who picked up a rebound on the right side of the slot and shifted the puck to his backhand to beat goaltender Dryden McKay. Peter DiLiberatore made it 2-0 at 15:36, finishing off a two-on-one by tapping the puck into an open net off a perfect cross-crease pass by Guus van Nes. Quinnipiac outshot Minnesota State 13-6 in the period.

“I don’t want to say we’re a young team, but we’re a little bit all over the map at times, and unfortunately you can’t do that when you’re playing a top five team nationally,” said Bobcats coach Rand Pecknold. “Great first, tough second, good third, and then tough in the overtime, but again a lot of the credit has to go to Minnesota State and how good they were and how they controlled the play at times.”

Minnesota State rebounded and outplayed the Bobcats in the second, getting numerous chances and outshooting Quinnipiac 14-5. It seemed like the Bobcats would keep their two-goal lead headed into the third, but Jake Jaremko scored at 18:09 on a tip of a Julian Napravnik shot to bring the Mavericks back within one.

“Wasn’t looking good is an understatement,” said Minnesota State coach Mike Hastings. “I said let’s push all the chips in and play. I thought we were playing tentative and didn’t have much rhythm and we were throwing pucks around, and they took advantage of it. We talked about it in the locker room about going back and trying to get our ground game going a little bit, and I thought once we did that we gained some confidence.

The third period was more evenly played, but Quinnipiac got its two-goal lead back when CJ McGee scored at 8:54. McGee beat McKay short side with a bomb of a snap shot from the top of the left circle. It was his first career goal.

Time was working against Minnesota State when the rally started with a goal by Nathan Smith from about 30 feet out at 14:54. The Mavericks kept pushing for the equalizer, but Petruzzelli held firm.

The Mavericks pulled McKay at 1:15 for the extra attacker, and it almost immediately paid off as Cade Borchardt notched the equalizer just 13 seconds later, finishing off a play set up by a great pass by Jake Livingstone.