ANCHORAGE, ALASKA — It might be a tad early to call Saturday's game a must-win, but it certainly was an important one.
The Minnesota State men’s hockey team left Anchorage with three points after defeating Alaska-Anchorage 4-0 on rookie goalie Stephon Williams’ fourth shutout of the season.
The victory was a nice rebound from a tough tie on Friday in which MSU blew a two-goal lead late in the third period. It also snapped a four-game Western Collegiate Hockey Association winless streak.
Defenseman Zach Palmquist scored two goals, and leading scorer Matt Leitner had a two-point game, including a goal, for the Mavericks. Evan Mosey, another defenseman, scored the other MSU goal.
The Mavericks scored three goals in the second period.
“In the second period we needed some guys to step up,” MSU coach Mike Hastings said. “I thought our forwards did a better job of finding our defensemen, and our defenseman did a better job of getting pucks to the net.”
Meanwhile, Williams, a Fairbanks, Alaska, native, stopped 18 shots. His four shutouts, which include another one earlier this season against the Seawolves, are an MSU freshman record and one shy of the program’s overall single-season record.
The Mavericks led 1-0 after the first period and opened things up in the second when they outshot the Seawolves 14-3. For the game, they outshot UAA 28-18.
Minnesota State scored two power-play goals and held the Seawolves scoreless on six power plays, including four in the first period.
“I thought (Williams) did a good job,” Hastings said. “He made a couple (saves) he shouldn’t have made, and I thought our penalty killers did a really good job. It could have gotten out of hand in the first period when we took four penalties. Earlier in the year when we did that, teams would score on us, and it cost us.”
Anchorage, which extended its winless streak to 10 games, had a first-period goal disallowed after video review determined that an Anchorage player was in the crease and interfered with Williams .
The win moved MSU (15-8-3, 9-8-1 in WCHA) into a tie for sixth place in the WCHA standings and within three points of first place.
The Mavericks will play a home-and-home series against No. 1 Minnesota next weekend, with Friday’s game in Minneapolis and Saturday’s game in Mankato.