Top-ranked Minnesota State-Mankato was almost perfect on the power play Saturday, going 3-for-4 in a 3-1 victory over eighth-ranked Minnesota Duluth to sweep the nonconference series at Amsoil Arena.
“I thought we were a better hockey team tonight than we were last night,” said Bulldogs coach Scott Sandelin, whose team lost 4-1 on Friday. “The difference was special teams for sure. They’re power play capitalized and ours didn’t.”
Saturday’s series finale was played during a blizzard and before a sparse crowd of just 1,289 fans. That was the number of tickets scanned at the gates Saturday. Over 5,000 tickets were sold and those who were unable to attend can contact the Bulldog ticket office (218-726-8595) for a possible credit toward a future 2019-20 regular season game.
Saturday’s blizzard caused a power surge 2:58 into Saturday’s game that briefly plunged Amsoil Arena into darkness, halting the game for 15 minutes while the lights warmed back up. Both teams retreated to their locker rooms before returning. The game was tied 0-0 and the Mavs had the only shot on goal.
Junior center Jake Jaremko put the Mavericks on top 1-0 11:50 into the first period via a power play goal. Freshman wing Lucas Sowder set up the score, picking up a rebound on the left side of UMD senior goaltender Hunter Shepard, taking the puck behind the net and finding Jaremko on the right side.
Sowder scored the game-winning power play goal for the Mavericks 9:04 into the third period and Jaremko added an insurance goal at the 12:40 mark, also on the power play.
“It really puts it into perspective,” UMD junior defenseman Scott Perunovich said of getting swept. “If we thought we were good enough, clearly we’re not. We have a lot of work to do and all the guys know that. We’re willing to put the work in.”
UMD tied the game at 1-1 on a power play goal 7:23 into the third period when a shot by junior defenseman Dylan Samberg ricocheted in off of junior center Justin Richards, but the Mavericks retook the lead less than two minutes later.
The Bulldogs finished just 1-for-5 on the power play Saturday and 2-for-8 on the weekend, one week after going 6-for-10 in a home sweep of Colorado College.
UMD was on the power play for nine minutes of the final 10:45 of the second period after Mavericks senior wing Charlie Gerard took a pair of minors 2:50 apart. Mavs junior center Jared Spooner was then ejected for kneeing Perunovich with 5:49 to go in the second. UMD mustered five shots on goal, but no goals.
“Our power play has been one of the key things we’ve been beating other teams with and when that’s not clicking, we’re losing games,” UMD junior wing Kobe Roth said. “Our power play has been coming through and scoring big goals. Their penalty kill played great, but our has got to be better.”
The Bulldogs were held without a shot on goal for the first 10:10 of the game Saturday and didn’t get their second shot on goal until 6:01 remained in the period. UMD launched a charge late in the first, however, outshooting the Mavericks 7-1 in the final 6:01.
UMD finished with a 38-24 shot advantage as Minnesota State sophomore goalie Dryden McKay made 37 saves, including 9-of-10 on the penalty kill. UMD senior goalie Hunter Shepard stopped 21 shots.
Mavericks coach Mike Hastings said McKay was the key to shutting down the Bulldogs' red-hot power play, in addition to the guys in front of McKay blocking shots.
“Dryden McKay was really good tonight,” Mavericks coach Mike Hastings said. “Your best penalty killer has to be your goaltender and I thought he was tonight. And I thought we had some guys pay the price blocking shots. Just at opportune times they made some plays to get us out of the zone. It’s a big difference in the game for us because they’d been on fire.”
The Bulldogs were without junior wing Nick Swaney and senior defenseman and co-captain Nick Wolff on Saturday due to injuries.
Wolff was knocked out of Friday’s game early via an awkward shoulder-to-shoulder hit along the end boards. He went back to the Bulldogs locker room and returned to the game twice, though briefly each time, before heading back to the locker room a third time and staying there.
Swaney missed his third straight game after getting checked from behind a week ago against Colorado College.
Hermantown native Wyatt Aamodt wasn’t in the Mavericks lineup this weekend due to a lower body injury, according to MSU sports information. Aamodt has only played three games so far during his sophomore season after playing 36 last year as a freshman.
Minnesota State 1-0-2—3
Minnesota Duluth 0-0-1—1
First period — 1. MSU, Jake Jaremko 2 (Lucas Sowder, Reggie Lutz), 11:50 (pp).
Second period — No scoring.
Third period — 2. UMD, Justin Richards 3 (Dylan Samberg, Cole Koepke), 7:23 (pp); 3. MSU, Sowder 3 (Lutz, Nathan Smith), 9:04 (pp); 4. MSU, Jaremko 3 (Smith, Lutz), 12:40 (pp).
Shots on goal — MSU 8-5-11—24; UMD 8-16-14—38. Goalies — Dryden McKay, MSU (38 shots-37 saves); Hunter Shepard, UMD (24-21). Power plays — MSU 3-of-4; UMD 1-of-5. Penalties — MSU 8-27; UMD 5-10. Referees — Cameron Voss, Timm Walsh. Linesmen — Brandon Schmitt, Tony Aronson. Att. — 5,103 (tickets sold).