St. Paul, Minn. ---- The Minnesota State men's hockey team came into the inaugural North Star College Cup tournament having swept Ferris State the weekend before.
The Mavericks unable to sustain the momentum gained in the two home wins over the second-rated Bulldogs in losing to Minnesota Duluth 5-4 in overtime in a nonconference game played in Xcel Energy Center Friday afternoon.
Minnesota Duluth was first on the board after sophomore defenseman Andy Welinski took a shot from the right point at the 7:28 mark to beat a screened Cole Huggins low on the blocker side. Minnesota State responded 2 minutes and 58 seconds later when senior forward Johnny McInnis threw the puck towards the net from a bad angle from the right corner, bouncing it off the back of UMD netminder Aaron Crandall's skate to tie the game. Then at 14:25, Maverick junior forward Matt Leitner took a pass from junior forward Jean-Paul Lafontaine on the power play and skated the puck to the top of the right circle where wristed the puck past a screened Crandall on the glove side.
Shortly into the second period at 3:49, UMD was able to capitalize on a power-play opportunity when Dominic Toninato turned and fired the puck off of an offensive zone face-off win towards the net and Austin Farley deflected the puck into the far side of the net with his right skate. The Bulldogs second marker of the period came at 10:27 when Alex Iafallo won a battle in the left corner and made a centering pass to the front of the net where Adam Krause tapped the puck past Huggins on the far side. Minnesota State then connected for its second power-play tally at 16:58 when senior forward Zach Lehrke wristed the puck off of the right post and Lafontaine nudged the rebound over the goal line.
MSU took a one-goal lead at 6:53 of the third on a shorthanded tally from Lehrke in which he went in all alone to beat Crandall with a backhanded shot through the pads. The goal is the first shorthanded marker for the Mavericks this year. At 10:12 of the period, UMD evened it up with a shorthanded goal of its own with Kyle Osterberg grabbing his own rebound, one in which Huggins thought he had covered, and backhanded the puck into the net.
In overtime, the Bulldogs tallied a power-play goal with 27 seconds remaining with Iafallo grabbing a loose puck before firing into an open net to cement the victory for UMD
Minnesota State, which appeared in the receiving votes category of both national polls this week and enters the weekend rated #17 in the pairwise rankings (system used to determine the NCAA postseason field), drops to 14-11-0 overall with today's loss. The Mavericks who ranked 6th in the nation in power-play percentage (23.4%) coming into today's game, went two-for-five on the man advantage while UMD converted on two of six chances with the man advantage. Cole Huggins, whose record moves to 10-6-0, made 30 saves for MSU, as the Mavericks were outshot by a 35-27 margin in the loss.
The Mavericks play at 4:00 p.m. Saturday against the loser of tonight's other game which pits #1 Minnesota and #5 St. Cloud State.