MARQUETTE, MICH. — The road was not kind to the Minnesota State men’s hockey team in January, and the last day of the month might have been a low point.
The Mavericks allowed four third-period goals in a 5-2 WCHA loss to Northern Michigan on Friday in their first-ever trip to the Berry Events Center.
“We didn’t play very well,” MSU coach Mike Hastings said. “Credit to (the Wildcats). I’ll give them credit. But we weren’t very good.”
The Mavericks’ road record away from Mankato dropped to 5-12, but it was 1-6 on the road in January — not exactly what was expected from the WCHA’s preseason favorite back in October.
“Our playoff games after the first round — if we’re at home for the first round — are all on the road,” said junior forward Chase Grant, who scored one of the Mavericks’ two goals. “If we’re not good on the road, that could spell trouble.”
Northern Michigan outshot Minnesota State 31-26 and blocked 21 shots.
That was the type of play Hastings was expecting to see out of his team.
“Commitment,” Hasting said. “Pick, what? Power play, penalty kill, forecheck, faceoffs, blocking shots. I’ll keep going, but we’ll just stay here a lot longer than we need to.”
The game was scoreless until late in the second period, and Minnesota State actually struck first.
A knee-to-knee hit by Ryan Daugherty on the Mavericks’ Dylan Margonari during an MSU power play gave a 5-minute major and a 5-on-3 advantage.
Johnny McInnis put back the rebound of a Zach Stepan shot at the left post with 2:38 remaining in the period and plenty of time left on the major.
That was until penalties on Sean Flanagan and Bryce Gervais put the Wildcats on the power play.
With 16.7 seconds left in the period, Stephan Vigier blasted a shot from the right circle past goaltender Cole Huggins, tying the game.