For a team that struggled so mightily over the first half of the season, a string of series splits to start 2012 hasn’t seemed so bad for the Minnesota State men’s hockey team.
The Mavericks ended up with another split — their fifth in a row — after falling to Michigan Tech on Saturday before a crowd of 3,348 at Verizon Wireless Center.
But the 7-3 defeat might have left them with a sick feeling in their stomachs.
Going for their first Western Collegiate Hockey Association series sweep in 14 months, the Mavericks grabbed a quick 1-0 lead. But they melted down after that, and watched as the Huskies scored six first-period goals.
“They played good and we didn’t. Pretty simple,” Mavericks coach Troy Jutting said. “It’s really the only period I can look at, since Christmastime, where we did not play. And (Michigan Tech) did.”
Taking advantage of sloppy defensive play and four MSU penalties, three Huskies had three points in the opening period. Ryan Furne and Brett Olson each had two goals and an assist, and David Johnstone assisted on three goals.
“We didn’t get the goaltending we’ve been getting, we didn’t play defense the way you have to, we took some bad penalties,” Jutting said. “It was just a bad 20 minutes of hockey.”
Evan Mosey gave the Mavericks a 1-0 lead just 1:50 into the game, and the Huskies tied it on Furne’s power-play goal at 4:36.
But the momentum hinged on a referee video review at 7:38.
Alex MacLeod’s goal was initially ruled no goal on the ice, as referee Brad Shepherd signaled that MacLeod put the puck into the net with his hand. But after a lengthy video review, Shepherd called it a goal and explained to Jutting that MacLeod got his stick on the puck before it crossed the line.
“It’s always hard to see a goal you think that’s not a goal turned into one,” Mavericks captain Tyler Elbrecht said.
Thirty-five seconds after that, with Eriah Hayes in the penalty box for elbowing, Brett Olson scored on the power play to make it 3-1. By the 13:39 mark, it was 5-1, and goalie Phil Cook was replaced after making just five saves.
Minnesota State freshman Matt Leitner, who finished with three points, scored during a delayed penalty to make it 5-2 with 5:09 remaining in the first period. A good chance to cut Tech’s lead to two went astray, however, when a Hayes charging penalty negated the power play.
When the Huskies went on advantage, Furne scored to make it a four-goal game.
“We need to understand there’s no 20 minutes off,” Jutting said.
The two teams traded goals in the second period, with the Huskies’ Bryce Reddick beating Austin Lee (18 saves) on a breakaway, and MSU freshman Zach Palmquist scoring a power-play goal.
Huskies goalie Josh Robinson stopped 35 of 38 shots, including 18 in the third period, for the win.
“We need to figure out as a team how to get a sweep on the weekend,” Elbrecht said.
The Mavericks (10-19-1, 6-15-1 in WCHA) will travel to Alaska Anchorage this week for a Friday-Saturday series.
Michigan Tech 6-1-0—7
Minnesota State 2-1-0—3
Scoring: 1. MSU-Mosey 2 (Leitner 13, Hayes 10) 1:50; 2. MTU-Furne 9 (Stebner 5, Reddick 1) 4:36; 3. MTU-MacLeod 4 (D. Johnstone 12, J. Johnstone 4) 7:38; 4. MTU-Olson 8 (Furne 12, D. Johnstone 13) ppg 8:13; 5. MTU-McCadden 1 (C. Pietila 3, Rix 5) 11:26; 6. MTU-Olson 9 (Baker 16, B. Pietila 12) 13:40; 7. MSU-Leitner 9 (Palmquist 9, Gaede 4) 14:51; 8. MTU-Furne 10 (Olson 18, D. Johnstone 14) ppg 17:45
Penalties: Hayes, MSU (elbowing) 7:55; Stern, MSU (roughing) 8:45; Stebner, MTU (hooking) 14:51; Hayes, MSU (charging) 16:17; Gaede, MSU (tripping) 18:10
Scoring: 9. MTU-Reddick 3 (Kero 7) 12:56; 10. MSU-Palmquist 6 (Leitner 14) ppg 15:11
Penalties: Olson, MTU (interference) 4:13; Lehrke, MSU (slashing) 12:56; Sova, MTU (elbowing) 12:56; Seigo, MTU (high-sticking) 16:27; Sova, MTU (high-sticking) 18:33
Penalties: Dorr, MSU (hooking) 1:41 ; Sweeney, MTU (interference) 5:36; Zuck, MSU (slashing) 19:42
Shots on goal: MTU 11-11-8—30, MSU 10-10-18—38. Penalties: MTU 6 for 12 minutes, MSU 7 for 14 minutes. Power plays: MTU 2 for 5; MSU 1 for 7. Goalie saves: MTU Robinson 8-9-18—35 (3 GA); MSU Cook 5-x-x—5 (5 GA), Lee 0-10-8—18 (2 GA)
Referees: Brad Shepherd, Todd Anderson. Linesmen: Rick Nelson, Sterling Egan.