By Shane Frederick
Free Press Staff Writer
MANKATO — Nobody said closing out the regular season against North Dakota was going to be easy, no matter how improved the Minnesota State men’s hockey team has been this season.On Friday, before a crowd of 4,618 at the Verizon Wireless Center, the 10th-ranked Mavericks dominated the first period and, for the game, doubled up UND in shots on goal.
But two bad turnovers deep in the MSU end of the ice served up a couple of easy goals for the visitors, who won the WCHA game 4-3. It was UND’s 10th win in a row against Minnesota State.
“I felt like we did a lot of things right tonight,” Mavericks coach Mike Hastings said. “We made a couple of mistakes, and they’re a pretty good team. If you make mistakes, they can make you pay, and they did.”
North Dakota, which was outshot 40-20, took leads of 2-1 and 3-2 directly off two of those mistakes.
After his team iced the puck on a penalty kill, Mark MacMillan got aggressive and chased it down. He took the puck away from goalie Stephon Williams (16 saves) behind the MSU net, and with defenseman Josh Nelson too deep, tucked it away into an open net with 2:50 left in the second period.
At 6:46 of the third period, fourth-line center Stephane Pattyn stripped the puck away from defenseman Zach Palmquist between the circles and quickly fired past Williams.
“I tried to make one too many plays, and it cost us,” Palmquist said. “You gotta be mentally tough; you’ve got to let it go. I tried my best to get back into the game. My teammates helped me on the bench. It’s such a great group; they really motivated me to get going again.”
The Mavericks responded to MacMillan’s goal with an Eriah Hayes goal — his 19th of the season and 12th on the power play — from Matt Leitner just 17 seconds later, and the game was tied 2-2 going into the third.
After Pattyn scored, however, MSU couldn’t get the equalizer, despite putting 15 shots on freshman goalie Zane Gothberg in the period.
Rocco Grimaldi made it 4-2 with an empty-net goal with 35 seconds to play, and the Mavericks gave themselves one last gasp after Taylor Herndon’s with 20.2 seconds remaining.
The Mavericks controlled play in the first period, outshooting UND 12-2 and taking a 1-0 lead on Teddy Blueger’s goal off a Dylan Margonari rebound.
North Dakota’s Carter Rowney tied it midway through the second period, redirecting a shot over Williams’ glove-side shoulder.
“I thought we had our chances,” Palmquist said. “I thought we generated a lot of chances. I thought we played a great game overall, but we didn’t score when we needed to.”
Minnesota State (21-11-3, 15-11-1 in WCHA) remained in fourth place in the conference standings but is in a three-way tie with Wisconsin and Denver. MSU is third among those teams in the tiebreaker, however, and hold a one-point lead over seventh-place Nebraska Omaha going into tonight’s regular-season finale.
“If we won we weren’t going to get a trophy, and if we lost, our season wasn’t done,” Hastings said. “It’s about what’s in front of us.”
The two teams will play again at 7:07 p.m. tonight.
North Dakota 0-2-2—4
Minnesota State 1-1-1—3
Scoring: 1. MSU-Blueger 6 (Margonari 9, Hayes 14) 14:57
Penalties: Gaarder, UND (interference) 9:12; Leitner, MSU (tripping) 19:57
Scoring: 2. UND-Rowney 9 (Simpson 21, Grimaldi 18) 10:04; 3. UND-Ma. MacMillan 13 (unassisted) shg 17:10; 4. MSU-Hayes 19 (Leitner 26, Palmquist 17) ppg 17:27
Penalties: Forbort, UND (hooking) 6:26; Pattyn, UND (roughing) 8:17; Rowney, UND (elbowing) 15:53
Scoring: 5. UND-Pattyn 2 (unassisted) 6:46; 6. UND-Grimaldi 13 (Rowney 15) eng 19:24; 7. MSU-Herndon 1 (Mosey 4) 19:40
Penalties: Gleason, UND (roughing) 9:08; Forbort, UND (roughing) 20:00; Hayes, MSU (roughing) 20:00
Shots on goal: UND 2-11-7—20. MSU 12-13-15—40. Penalties: UND 6 for 12 minutes; MSU 4 for 8 minutes. Power-play opportunities. UND 0 for 2; MSU 1 for 5. Goalie saves: UND Gothberg 11-12-14—37 (3 GA); MSU Williams 2-9-5—16 (3 GA)
Referees: Craig Welker, C.J. Beurline. Linesemen: Sterling Eagan, Tony Czech.