By Shane Frederick
The Free Press
MANKATO — Chase Grant had a defender draped over him like a cape as he felt the puck hit the shaft of his stick. But didn’t see what happened after that. All he heard was the crowd.
And that sound?
“Beautiful,” the Minnesota State junior forward said.
Grant’s goal midway through overtime gave the 14th-ranked Mavericks a hard-fought 4-3 victory over Providence before 3,316 at the Verizon Wireless Center.
It was Minnesota State’s 10th victory in its last 11 games and kept the Mavericks unbeaten in nonconference play this season.
Providence might be MSU’s eastern twin. Like Minnesota State (13-6-2) in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, the Friars are in fourth place in Hockey East. And just past the midway point of the season, both teams have postseason aspirations.
“I think we play similar styles,” said Grant, who also assisted on a goal. “They have a high work ethic and are really fast. … We were lucky enough to scrape one out tonight.”
Grant scored on a centering pass from Johnny McInnis at 2:36 of the extra period. Eli Zuck also assisted on the play.
“I thought Chase was our most honest and best player tonight, the whole game,” coach Mike Hastings said. “It was an honest night’s work for him.”
In regulation, the Mavericks got three special teams goals — power-play goals by Eriah Hayes and Josh Nelson and a beautiful short-handed goal by Brett Stern.
Zach Lehrke finished with two assists. Rookie goalie Stephon Williams won his 10th game, stopping 29 of 32 shots.
Providence grabbed an early lead as defenseman Tom Parisi beat goalie Williams with a long shot off a clean faceoff win at 2:41.
A pair of slashing penalties on the Friars gave the Mavericks a two-man advantage, and Hayes fired in a shot from the right circle and beat goalie Russ Stein to tie the game. With the remaining one-man power-play, Nelson gave MSU the lead blasting in a heads-up pass from across the top of the zone from defenseman Jon Jutzi. The goals came 1:38 apart, with Nelson scoring at 7:15.
A little more than two minutes later, Providence’s Paul de Jersey was left alone at left wing and was found by Steven Shamanski for an easy goal, tying the game.
The Friars went ahead 3-2 just 71 seconds into the second period when Derek Army scored on a pile-up in front of Williams.
“They’re a good hockey team; they’re well-coached,” Hastings said of Providence (7-7-3).
With about 7 minutes left in the second period, MSU freshman Brett Knowles was assessed a 5-minute major for an open-ice charge. It was a huge opportunity for the Friars to extend their lead.
Not only did the Mavericks kill it off, but late in the penalty, Stern made an impressive play to tie the game.
Looking more like a 20-goal power forward than a one-goal defenseman, Stern chased down a loose puck and used his body to gain position on a Friars defenseman as he nosed to the net. Then he lifted a backhander over Stein’s shoulder. It was Stern’s second goal of his career.
“It’s funny how things work out,” Hastings said. “We had different guys step up at different times and score some very important goals. … We’ve tried to challenge (Stern) a little bit, and he’s accepted that challenge.”
The 3-3 score held through the third period, as the two teams combined for 22 shots on goal in the frame (MSU finished with 35).
The Mavericks and the Friars will wrap up the series at 7:07 p.m. tonight.
Minnesota State 2-1-0-1—4
Scoring: 1. PC-Parisi 3 (Mauermann 5) 2:41; 2. MSU-Hayes 11 (Leitner 18, Lehrke 9) ppg 5:37; 3. MSU-Nelson 4 (Jutzi 4, Grant 6) ppg 7:15; 4. PC-de Jersey 3 (Shamanski 7, Mauermann 6) 9:27
Penalties: Schaller, PC (slashing) 3:48; Demopoulos, PC (slashing) 5:25; Mauermann, PC (slashing) 13:53; McInnis, MSU (slashing) 15:14
Scoring: 5. PC-Army 6 (Murphy 4) 1:11; 6. MSU-Stern 2 (Lehrke 9) shg 17:37
Penalties: McInnis, MSU (interference) 2:58; Mosey, MSU (hooking); Knowles, MSU, major/game misconduct (charging) 13:03; Schaller, PC (hooking) 13:05
Penalties: Mosey, MSU (tripping) 10:55; Velischek, PC (interference) 13:31; LaFontaine, MSU (hooking) 16:09
Scoring: 7. MSU-Grant 6 (McInnis 7, Zuck 6) 2:26
Shots on goal: PC 12-9-11-0—32. MSU 15-6-11-3—35. Penalties: PC 5 for 10 minutes; MSU 7 for 25 minutes. Power-play opportunities. PC 0 for 6; MSU 2 for 4. Goalie saves: PC Stein 13-5-11-2—31 (4 GA); MSU Williams 10-8-11-0—0 (3 GA).
Referees: Jarod Moen, Scott Bokal. Linesmen: Matt Tyree, Neil Missling.