BEMIDJI — Through more than 5 1/2 games, Johnny McInnis was struggling to score goals for the Minnesota State men's hockey team.
It wasn't for a lack of shots or other opportunities, either.
"I've had chances," the senior captain said. "Early on last year, they were going in. It's natural to try to compare, but I know I shouldn't. It's a brand new season."
During the third period Saturday at the Sanford Center, McInnis finally broke out of his scoring slump. His goal broke a tie game and helped the Mavericks defeat Bemidji State 4-3 to get a Western Collegiate Hockey Association series split.
"There was a little moment of, 'finally,' " said McInnis, who had a team-high five shots on goal in Friday's 4-1 loss.
McInnis skated down the left wing around defenseman James Hansen, powering his way to the net. Goalie Andrew Walsh stopped the initial shot, but McInnis jammed in the rebound to give the Mavericks a 3-2 lead.
"We needed our captain to make a play," coach Mike Hastings said.
That's because the Mavericks saw a 2-0 lead midway through the second period wither into a tie game before the second intermission.
Zach Stepan and Bryce Gervais scored Minnesota State's first two goals — Stepan on the power play in the first period for his first collegiate goal, and Gervais off a nice feed from Jean-Paul LaFontaine in the second — and the Mavericks looked to be in control of the game.
But Bemidji came back on goals by Mitch Cain and Graeme McCormack.
Cain's goal marked the third goal of the series by Bemidji State's fourth line. The group also sparked a second-period charge on Friday, giving the Beavers a 2-0 lead.
Minnesota State responded well on the next shift, but defenseman Jon Jutzi and Gervais hit posts with back-to-back shots.