By Shane Frederick
Free Press Staff Writer
MANKATO — In a game that will be remembered for a bizarre sequence of events and the invocation of a rarely used rule, the 11th-ranked Minnesota State men’s hockey team fell 4-3 in overtime to a red-hot Wisconsin team on Friday night.Senior defenseman John Ramage scored with 32 seconds remaining in the extra frame to improve his team’s unbeaten streak to nine games and give the Badgers their first overtime win since 2006.
“That was a WCHA playoff type of game,” said Minnesota State coach Mike Hastings, whose team lost at home for the first time in seven games. “You’re going to have to keep competing. Nobody’s going to go away; we didn’t go away.”
Matt Leitner scored two goals for the Mavericks, including a wrap-around goal with 1:51 left in the third period that tied the game and forced overtime. Tyler Elbrecht scored MSU’s other goal. It was the first of the season for the senior defenseman and just the third of his career. It tied the game at 2-all at the 8:59 mark of the third.
In between came something that neither Hastings, Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves nor probably anyone else in the crowd of 3,468 at the Verizon Wireless Center had seen before.
With 9:20 remaining in regulation, a pile-up occurred in the Minnesota State net. Mavericks freshman goalie Stephon Williams appeared hurt on the play but was preparing to stay in the game.
However, when the referees sorted everything out, they assessed Williams with a major penalty for facemasking, as he pulled off the helmet of Wisconsin’s Jefferson Dahl. By rule, a goalie must serve a major penalty (along with a skater who can enter the game on the fly), so Williams went to the penalty box, and Phil Cook game in for the first time since Nov. 9.
The Mavericks killed the penalty, but while Williams waited for a whistle, Dahl, who did serve a minor for charging Williams on the play, scored on Cook to give Wisconsin a 3-2 lead.
“Whatever the situation is, you have to go out and deal with it,” Hasting said. “I thought we did a pretty good job there. We were a little soft on the rush (on Dahl’s goal); our gap was bad. But I don’t believe that’s what cost us the game.”
Williams, who finished with 24 saves, said he grabbed Dahl’s helmet because his knee was bent back awkwardly, and he was in a lot of pain.
“It was a natural reaction,” said Williams, who said he hadn’t sat in a penalty box since high school.
Williams said he felt bad to put Cook, who made two saves, in a tough spot.
“I definitely threw him under the bus,” he said. “That’s all on me.”
Since their series over Thanksgiving in Madison, the two teams combined for just one loss, with the Mavericks winning 11 of 12 games (including the two against Wisconsin) and the Badgers going 5-0-3.
The first period nearly ended in a scoreless tie, but both teams scored goals in the final two minutes.
The Badgers struck first on defenseman Joe Faust’s goal with 1:58 to play. The Mavericks then got a late power play and tied the game 74 seconds later. Leitner finished off the goal, tipping a wide shot by Zach Palmquist behind goalie Landon Peterson (30 saves).
An ugly second period for MSU closed out with the Badgers taking the lead again. Ryan Little beat the defense as he took a pass from Dahl and scored with 59 seconds remaining before intermission.
The Mavericks (14-7-2, 8-7-0 in WCHA) and the Badgers will play again at 7:07 p.m. tonight.
Minnesota State 1-0-2-0—3
Scoring: 1. UW-Faust 1 (Lee 13, Labate 5) 18:02; 2. MSU-Leitner 7 (Palmquist 12, LaFontaine 14) ppg 19:15
Penalties: McCabe, UW (boarding) :35; Simonelli, UW (tripping) 14:27; Dahl, UW (holding) 18:41
Scoring: 3. UW-R. Little 3 (Dahl 2, S. Little 1) 19:01
Penalties: Margonari, MSU (elbowing) 3:13; Lehrke, MSU (hooking) 5:00; Zengerle, UW (unsportsmanlike conduct) 7:04; McCabe, UW (unsportsmanlike conduct) 7:04; Elbrecht, MSU (unsportsmanlike conduct) 7:04; Blueger, MSU (roughing) 7:04; Ramage, UW (unsportsmanlike conduct, roughing) 14:47; Blueger, MSU (unsportsmanlike conduct, cross-checking) 14:47.
Scoring: 4. MSU-Elbrecht 1 (unassisted) 9:00; 5. UW-Dahl 2 (S. Little 2, R. Little 3) 16:21; 6. MSU-Leitner 7 (Hayes 7, LaFontaine 15) 18:09
Penalties: Labate, UW (tripping) 1:34; Simonelli, UW (cross-checking) 6:54; Gervais, MSU (cross-checking) 6:54; Dahl, UW (charging the goaltender) 10:40
Scoring: 7. UW-Ramage 3 (Kerdiles 5, Zengerle 8) 4:27
Shots on goal: UW 8-14-7-1—30. MSU 8-7-16-2—33. Penalties: UW 10 for 20 minutes; MSU 8 for 19 minutes. Power-play opportunities. UW 0 for 3; MSU 1 for 4. Goalie saves: UW Peterson 7-7-14-2—30 (3 GA); MSU Williams 7-13-4-0—24 (3 GA), Cook x-x-2-x—2.
UW called its timeout at 3:07 of OT
Referees: Derek Shepherd, Marco Hunt. Linesemen: Matt Tyree, Tony Czech.