Nervous. Scared. Stressed.
Not exactly three words you hear from a winning locker room.
But that’s how the Minnesota State men’s hockey team was feeling during the second and third periods of their 4-3 nonconference win over Bemidji State Friday at the John Glas Fieldhouse.
The Mavericks ended a four-game losing streak to the Beavers, extended their current unbeaten streak to five games (3-0-2) and got back to the .500 mark for the first time since Nov. 9.
But it was a bumpy road to get there, as they saw leads of 2-0 and 4-1 nearly wither away against the hard-charging Beavers.
“We know we’re better than how we played,” said forward James Gaulrapp, who scored what would stand as the game-winning goal at 3:04 of the second period. “We were nervous. They came at us and we didn’t do much about it.”
Bemidji State outshot MSU 34-21, including a 27-11 advantage in the second and third periods. Mavericks goaltender Mike Zacharias allowed three goals for the first time in six starts but picked up his fifth win nonetheless.
“(Zacharias) played a very good hockey game,” Mavericks coach Troy Jutting said. “I don’t think we played as well defensively as we have been.”
The Mavericks did continue their strong play on the penalty kill, however, holding the Beavers scoreless on six chances, including a questionable charging penalty on Geoff Irwin, who crashed into goalie Matt Dalton during a race to a loose puck with 2:26 to play.
“I think our penalty kill has been really good,” said forward Jason Wiley, who finished with two assists. “It’s been solid how many games in a row? But we took way too many penalties. We have to stay out of the box or that’s going to catch up to us eventually.”
The Mavericks jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period on goals by Mick Berge and Trevor Bruess.
Berge intercepted a clearing attempt by Cody Bostock in the Beavers zone and took it in on goalie Matt Climie. Climie made the first save, but Berge backhanded the rebound behind him at 4:46 for his team-leading ninth goal of the season.
At 10:37, Bruess crashed the net to finish off a nice play between Kael Mouillierat and Joel Hanson, both of whom received assists on the goal.
Bemidji State’s Tyler Scofield cut the deficit in half just 83 seconds into the second period, but the Mavericks got the goal right back and then some, thanks to Gaulrapp, Wiley and the fourth line.
With Gaulrapp and center Andrew Sackrison in front of the net, defenseman Brian Kilburg’s seeing-eye shot found the back of the net at 2:25. Jutting left the group on the ice, and, 39 seconds later, Gaulrapp hopped on a puck that squirted out of a scrum in front of the Bemidji net and shot it into an open net. Wiley assisted on both goals for the first two-point game of his career.
“It was nice to get a couple points,” Wiley said. “It’s kind of a bonus. But winning is the big thing. These are pretty big games.”
Climie was pulled after Gaulrapp’s goal and was replaced by Dalton, who stopped all seven shots he faced over nearly 36 minutes.
The Beavers stormed back in the third period, getting goals at 4:11 and 10:33 by Matt Read and Matt Pope. Pope scored on a rebound after a scoring chance by Blaine Jarvis, who had just jumped out of the penalty box.
“The second and third periods got pretty stressful,” Gaulrapp said.
The Mavericks were scoreless on four power-play chances.
“It’s a young team that still is learning,” Jutting said. “You’re up 4-1 and, all of a sudden, you don’t play as hard. We need to learn from that.”
The Mavericks (6-6-3) and the Beavers will conclude the series at 7:05 p.m. tonight.
Minnesota State 2-2-0—4
Bemidji State 0-1-2—3
Scoring: 1. MSU-Berge 9 (unassisted) 4:46; 2. MSU-Bruess 3 (Hanson 1, Mouillierat 5) 10:37
Penalties: Moggach, BSU (slashing) 12:15; Friesen, MSU (tripping) 17:12
Scoring: 3. BSU-Scofield 6 (Read 8, Peluso 3) 1:23; 4. MSU-Kilburg 2 (Wiley 1, Kalinski 3) 2:25; 5. MSU-Gaulrapp 2 (Wiley 2, Davis 5) 3:04
Penalties: Cramer, BSU (high-sticking) 4:36; Boe, MSU (interference) 7:39; Jarvis, BSU (interference) 9:47; Youds, MSU (holding the stick) 15:28; Kalinski, MSU (charging) 17:55
Scoring: 6. BSU-Read 5 (McManamin 5, Scofield 4) 4:11; 7. BSU-Pope 6 (Jarvis 3, Weselowski 1) 10:33
Penalties: Bruess, MSU (cross-checking) 6:06; Jarvis, BSU (tripping) 8:19; Irwin, MSU (charging) 17:35
Shots on goal: MSU 10-7-4—21; BSU 7-15-12—34. Penalties: MSU 6 for 12 minutes; BSU 4 for 8 minutes. Power-play opportunities: MSU 0 for 4; BSU 0 for 6. Goalie saves: MSU Zacharias 7-14-0—0; BSU Climie 8-2-x—10, Dalton x-3-4—7
Referees: Todd Anderson. Assistant referees: Mike Eslinger, Andy Carton.
Nervous. Scared. Stressed.