Minnesota State looked to be in good position tonight to cruise to a victory when they jumped out to a 2-0 lead on St. Cloud State in the second game of their non-conference series against the Huskies. By the end of the night, the Mavericks would still hold that two-goal lead, but the path to get there was anything but easy in a wild, back-and-forth game that ended with the Mavericks winning their fourth straight game to open the season by a score of 6-4.
That initial 2-0 lead, thanks to a pair of goals by Clint Lewis, was erased less than two minutes later on back-to-back goals by Ryan Papa and Judd Peterson 41 seconds apart, and a third goal by Blake Winiecki gave the Huskies a 3-2 lead after two periods.
The offense didn’t slow down in the second period as the two teams traded goals before three consecutive goals by the Mavericks, including two from freshman Parker Tuomie, gave them a 6-4 lead.
The third period was much quieter. The Huskies appeared to cut their deficit in half at 10:03 of the third period, but a goal by Jimmy Schuldt was waved off after a successful challenge by Minnesota State that the Huskies had played the puck with a hand pass prior to the goal. The Mavericks finished off a scoreless third period and were able to take the win.
The Mavericks are now 4-0-0 to stat the season for the first time since 1998 with the win, which completed their first sweep of St. Cloud State since 2008. St. Cloud State will try to rebound next weekend with another series against an in-state rival when they face Minnesota.
Notes and Thoughts
-10 goals! This was a really fun hockey game to watch. The early theme in college hockey this season, as it often is, has been games filled with penalties as officials strictly enforce the rules. That wasn’t the case tonight. Each side was only whistled for two penalties(and one was a bench minor), and that clean play led to a more wide open game. Neither coach is likely to be happy when they go back over the tape, but I think the fans, regardless of what side of the outcome they were on, enjoyed a game that saw actual lead changes.
-The most pleasant surprise for Minnesota State early this season has been the play of their top line of Marc Michaelis-CJ Franklin-Brad McClure. They looked so good that they’ll likely earn one of those dumb line nicknames by the end of the year. Michaelis in particular has incredible hockey sense and passing ability and is going to create a ton of great opportunities for the other two this year.
The Mavericks also seem to have settled in on a top shutdown defensive pairing with Carter Foguth and Clint Lewis. They were stellar in their own end tonight, and when they can chip in some offense like Lewis did tonight, that’s a huge bonus.
- I don’t think there should be much panic from St. Cloud State over starting the season 0-2, especially on the road against what looks like it could be a surprisingly good team. But if there is a cause for concern, they came into the weekend without being settled in goal, and neither goalie played well enough this weekend to look like they’ve earned the job. Of the two, Jeff Smith had the better start on Friday and looked decent when he came on in relief of Zach Driscoll in the second period tonight. Smith likely starts next Friday at Mariucci Arena, but the position is still waiting for someone to step up and take control of it.
-Not helping the cause of their goalie, it was a rough night for St. Cloud State’s defensemen. It’s a talented group, but they’re not very big and they got pushed around a little on the forecheck and struggled to keep the opposition from getting good position in front of the net.
-I was pleasantly surprised with the continued maturation of senior Judd Peterson for St. Cloud State. He’s been pushed to top line center duties after all the players SCSU lost last summer, and he had a strong night. He’s a big, strong kid that can get moving. His goal tonight was a really pretty one.
-I’m not a fan of St. Cloud State’s potential fifth goal being waved off. Review did show the puck was played by an SCSU hand before the puck went in, but I’m not huge on the idea of going back on the tape over a play four refs on the ice missed. That call was a real killer too. With 10 minutes to play, if that becomes a one-goal game, I think the Huskies’ chance to tie it. Instead, that felt like a last chance for the Huskies, and they never threatened after that.