MANKATO — It took most of the first period for all of the fans to get through security and fill the Verizon Center for Minnesota State’s season-opening game on Saturday night.
The 18th-ranked Mavericks never got the eventual crowd of 5,030 rocking, however, and were shut out 4-0 by No. 9 St. Cloud State.
“The one thing I regret, other than losing a hockey game, is to not giving the crowd of 5,000-plus that took their time and spent their money something to cheer about,” MSU coach Mike Hastings said. “If we get them into the game I think it could potentially be a little bit different, but we did not.”
A lack of finish by the Mavericks and some timely goaltending by Huskies goalie Jeff Smith left the crowd with an empty feeling.
The Mavericks put 42 shots on goal. Players such as Charlie Gerard (eight shots on goal), Parker Tuomie (six) and Ian Scheid (five) might be haunted by their misses.
“Charlie Gerard was really good tonight,” Hastings said. “He did his part tonight, other than tucking one in. I thought his effort was exceptional.”
The Huskies scored one goal in each period before adding an empty-netter with 2:05 remaining in the game. Jimmy Schuldt, Jon Lizotte, Jacob Benson and Jack Poehling scored their goals.
Smith stopped 16 shots in the third period alone as Minnesota State pushed to get back in the game.
“It came down to second and third opportunities,” MSU junior captain Max Coatta said. “I thought we had some good chances, but I don’t think we were hard enough in front of the net, to be honest.”
The Huskies opened the scoring at 11:46 of the opening period when Schuldt, a defenseman blasted in a laser shot from the top of the right circle, one-timing Judd Peterson’s pass during 4-on-4 play.
Moments later, Scheid, a sophomore defenseman got a partial breakaway but ran out of room before being stuffed by Smith.
Other than the student section, the arena was about half full at that point, as several people were still waiting in line in the lobby and outside due to new security measures at the arena.
The Huskies doubled their lead 3:05 into the second period. They got the Mavericks scrambling in the defensive zone, and another defenseman, Lizotte finished off the play.
"I thought we made a good push in the second period, but then we gave up that one after we were buzzing them a bit," Coatta said. "We had some good looks."
Benson made it 3-0 at 11:08 of the third period, finishing off a 2-on-1 rush with defenseman Daniel Brickley defending. Ryan Poehling made the perfect, patient pass on the play, leaving Brickley and goalie Jason Pawloski helpless to stop it.
Smith made his best save of the night after that, snatching a tough Tuomie shot out of the air with his glove.
Pawloski finished with 22 saves. He was pulled for an extra attacker with more than five minutes to play, and Jack Poehling eventually scored in the empty net goal.
The Mavericks (0-1-0) will go on the road for a series Friday and Saturday at No. 2-ranked Boston University.
“We just got done playing a team that’s a very good hockey team, and we’re going to go play another one soon,” Hastings said, “so we’ve got to get better in a hurry.”