Minnesota State came into tonight's game riding a nation-best six game winning streak and ranked second overall in the country, the highest the team has been ranked in school history. But Alaska-Fairbanks erased a third period deficit and got an overtime game-winning goal from Austin Vieth to upset the Mavericks on Minnesota State's home ice for a 5-4 victory.
The teams traded goals in the first two periods and went to the lockerroom tied 2-2 after forty minutes. Minnesota State took an early 3-2 lead in the third period when Matt Leitner scored a power play goal. But the Mavericks could not hold the lead, when Tyler Morley's rebound goal tied the game.
Alaska took the lead on a strange play at 7:32 of the third period. Off a scramble in front of the net, the puck appeared to hit off the crossbar and was ruled no goal on the ice. But after the next whistle, 29 seconds later, the officials looked at the play on video review and determined that the puck did cross the line and it was a good goal.
That goal seemed likely to hold up as the game winner until Brad McClure tipped home a pass with 3:20 remaining in the third period to tie the game at four.
The game headed to overtime and though Minnesota State started the extra frame with just over a minute of power play time, they could not create any quality chances. After pinning the Mavericks in their own zone for an extended shift, Vieth batted home a loose puck in front of the net to give the Nanooks the win.
Notes and Thoughts
-This wasn't a terrible effort from Minnesota State tonight. They outshot Alaska 42-26, and scored four goals. That should be enough to win most nights. But they had a few key lapses in play and give Alaska credit for doing an excellent job of capitalizing on them. A lazy mistake in transition in the first period, a slow start to the second period, being a little too conservative when they got the lead, and then getting caught in their own zone in overtime were all mistakes that led to the puck ending up in the back of the Minnesota State net.
-Alaska has one of the more underrated, but very good, first lines in college hockey with Garrick Perry, Tyler Morley, and Marcus Basara. Morley ended the night with three points to give him 16 in 13 games this season, and could have had two more had he finished off a couple semi-breakaways. They were consistently dangerous all night. Perry is a force with his combination of size and speed and made his presence felt all night, especially on the penalty kill.
-But it takes more than one good line to beat a highly-ranked team like Minnesota State and tonight, the Nanooks got a huge game from their all-freshman line of Peter Krieger, Taylor Munson, and Austin Vieth. That line combined for three goals tonight and was really the difference in the game.
-On the defensive end, the Nanooks really pack things in tight around their night and make the other team fight through the traffic if they want a quality chance. Minnesota State did a pretty decent job of generating chances from the prime scoring area though. If you need more than four goals to win a game in regulation, offense wasn't the problem.
-Minnesota State got a little too conservative after taking that early 3-2 third period lead. They're just not a team that is going to be able to sit back in a shell defensively and protect a lead like that. They're one of the most fun teams to watch offensively that I've seen in a while, and they need to keep attacking teams if they want to win close games.
-Interesting sequence in overtime that led to the eventual game-winner. Minnesota State got caught with kind of a mix-and-match line out of the ice after they weren't allowed to make a change when they cleared the puck out of play(From my view, it looked like the UAF defender deflected the puck into his bench, but it wasn't ruled that way). The Mavericks did get the puck out of their zone, but attempted to carry the puck into the zone rather than making a change. The puck got turned over and UAF was able to establish possession back in the MSU zone. The Mavericks couldn't make a line change due to the long change in overtime, and Alaska was finally able to score against a tired bunch.
-I only saw Alaska's fourth goal once live, so I have no idea about the video review. Judging by the reaction on the ice, I was a little surprised the call on ice was overturned. I'll definitely look for video and post it if I find it.
5:16- Tyler Morley from Garrick Perry 1-0 Alaska
Perry skated the puck down the left wing on a rush from his own blueline. He skated around the MSU and made a pass to Morley who was able to tap the puck into an empty net.
7:56- Bryce Gervais from Carter Foguth and Teddy Blueger 1-1 tie
Blueger made a nice play to hold the puck along the boards and feed it back to Foguth at the point. Davis Jones stopped Foguth's shot, but left a rebound for Gervais to tap into the net.
1:51-Taylor Munson from Peter Krieger and Kyle Froese 2-1 UAF
Krieger took a shot from the left circle that Williams got a glove on, but couldn't control, leaving a rebound for Munson to knock in from the right crease
15:14 Blake Thompson from Bryce Gervais and Zeb Knutson 2-2 tie
Thompson skated the puck down the right wing on a 3-on-2 rush. He fired a pass to the middle of the ice that deflected off a UAF defender's skate in front of the net and went into the net for Thompson's first career goal.
0:22 Matt Leitner from Jean-Paul LaFontaine (power play) 3-2 MSU
Leitner made an excellent play to knock the puck out of midair and corral the puck along the right boards, then cut in towards the net and fired a wrist shot over the glove of Jones.
5:19 Tyler Morley from Marcus Basara and Colton Parayko 3-3 tie
Parayko fired a big slap shot from the right point. Williams made the first save, and stopped a first rebound attempt from Basara, but Morley was able to get a second rebound and scored to tie the game.
7:32 Austin Vieth from Taylor Munson and Josh Atkinson 4-3 UAF
On a play that was initially ruled off the crossbar, the officials went to video review at the next stoppage of play and determined that the puck did cross the line on a goal mouth scramble.
16:40 Brad McClure from Casey Nelson and Jean-Paul LaFontaine 4-4 tie
Nelson made a pass from the left corner that found McClure in the slot. McClure made a diving stab at the puck and was able to get enough on it to deflect the puck into the open net.
2:59 Austin Vieth from Taylor Munson and Peter Krieger 5-4 UAF
Vieth found a loose puck on a scramble in the slot and turned to swat it towards the net. The shot beat Williams for the game-winner.