The Minnesota State men’s hockey team had given up a two-goal lead, allowed another short-handed goal and failed to score on a seven-minute power play.
Yet the Mavericks were half a minute away from getting at least one point on the road Friday night at Bowling Green (Ohio) before the Falcons’ Mark Cooper scored in the final minute of overtime for a 4-3 WCHA victory.
Cooper walked the puck out of a scrum in the corner and beat freshman goaltender Cole Huggins over the shoulder on the short side with 31.5 seconds remaining. That completed a hat trick and avenged an overtime loss to the Mavericks two weeks ago in Mankato.
“To me (today’s series finale) is a really important game,” Mavericks coach Mike Hastings said in a phone interview afterward. “At the end of the year if it’s 2-2 with two overtime games (against Bowling Green), so be it.”
Minnesota State got goals from Sean Flanagan, Jean-Paul LaFontaine and Zach Stepan.
Stepan, who was playing for the first time in five games, tied the game at 3 with 8:23 remaining in the third period. Centering the puck out of the corner, the puck hit the back of goalie Tommy Burke and went into the net.
The Mavericks (4-7-0, 2-3-0 in WCHA), who had scored just two goals in their previous three games, started strong with a pair of goals in the first period.
Flanagan, a freshman defenseman, opened the scoring at 10:33 with an assist from Matt Leitner, and, 31/2 minutes later LaFontaine scored on the power play, getting some help from the return of senior Zach Lehrke.
Bowling Green got on the board 16 seconds into the second period on a power-play goal by Cooper The Falcons had the man advantage after Chase Grant received a major penalty and game misconduct for checking from behind late in the first period.
“I thought that was a real turning point in the game,” Hastings said. “I thought (before that) we put together our best 18 minutes of the season on the road. ... We have to find a way to get out of a period without something like that happening.”
Cooper tied the game at 2-2 at 6:47 of the second period. The Mavericks had a prime chance to grab the lead back after that, however, as Bowling Green’s Sean Walker got called for two penalties on the same play, one a major. Even with 7 minutes of power-play time, the Mavericks couldn’t muster much offense.
The power play got worse in the third period, as the Mavericks gave up a short-handed goal for the fourth time this season. Adam Berkle scored it at 5:16 for the 3-2 lead.
Huggins finished with 21 saves and will give way to Stephon Williams for tonight’s rematch. He has started four games in a row but has lost three straight. Burke also had 21 saves.