Top-ranked Minnesota State-Mankato came into Amsoil Arena this weekend and did what no other No. 1 ranked team in NCAA Division I men’s and women’s hockey has been able to do this season at Amsoil.
That’s win back-to-back games. The Mavericks followed Friday’s 4-1 victory with a 3-1 win during Saturday’s blizzard, scoring three power play goals.
Below are Saturday’s thumbs up, thumbs up and three stars from News Tribune college hockey reporter Matt Wellens.
Thumbs down to the Bulldogs’ special teams
A week ago UMD used special teams to bury Colorado College, scoring a key NCHC sweep at Amsoil Arena. The Bulldogs went 6-for-10 on the weekend on the power play, pouncing on the Tigers when they took major penalties by scoring four goals during the five-minute advantages.
UMD’s penalty kill also held its own, holding CC to 1-for-8 on the weekend.
The Bulldogs special teams let them down this weekend, especially on Saturday when the team by and large put together a much better effort. The power play finished 1-for-5 on Saturday and 2-for-8 on the weekend. The penalty kill was just 1-for-4 on Saturday and 50-50 overall on the weekend, giving up a total of five goals on 10 kills.
“They’re very good defensively,” UMD junior wing Kobe Roth said. “It just comes down to their will to compete. They’re out there, they wanted to block shots, pay the price, beating us to one-on-one puck battles. It comes down to the little things.”
The hardest sequence to watch Saturday was late in the second period when the Bulldogs were on the man advantage for almost nine consecutive minutes thanks to a pair of minor penalties by MSU’s Charlie Gerard taken within 2:50 of each other, and a major penalty for kneeing by MSU’s Jared Spooner six seconds after Gerard was released a second time.
UMD was on the power play for 9:00 of the final 10:45 of the second, and couldn’t score. They only mustered five shots on goal during the advantages with all five coming during the majors.
“We couldn’t generate much offense, with is disappointing for all of us,” UMD junior defenseman Scott Perunovich said. “We know we’re lucky to be out there on the power play. That’s a chance for us to go get a goal and help our team out. When you don’t do that, you really let the whole team down. Hopefully, that motivates us to get even better on the power play.”
Thumbs up to college hockey fans
Bulldogs coach Scott Sandelin shot News Tribune photographer Clint Austin and I a look of surprise tonight when he came out for his postgame press conference. I’m not sure he expected any media to be there at Amsoil Arena considering the weather.
I kind of had the same reaction when the doors opened to Amsoil Arena on Saturday night, and fans started pouring into the building. A total of 1,289 tickets were scanned Saturday night, according to UMD officials.
Yes, there were a fair share of Mavericks fans who were trapped in town at nearby hotels with nowhere else to go. We all expected that, and thought maybe it would be a Mavs home crowd on Saturday.
But a dedicated group of Bulldogs fans — as well as a vocal group below the press box who were asked to leave early because they couldn’t handle their Bud Lights and White Claws — came out in force, keeping Amsoil “Bulldog Country.”
To be honest, I should probably be giving everyone — including Clint and I — a big thumbs down for being at Amsoil Arena on Saturday. It was not safe out there on the roads in Duluth tonight after the game. No one should have been on the roads past 10 p.m. like many of us were.
However, the part of me that spent eight-plus years living in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula says, “Way da go der, eh!” No storm is going to keep us crazies away from the rink.
Matt’s Three Stars
3. MSU freshman wing Lucas Sowder: A nice assist on the first Mavs’ goal and the game-winner in the third.
2. MSU junior center Jake Jaremko: Two power play goals giving the Mavs a 1-0 and 3-1 lead.
1. MSU sophomore goaltender Dryden McKay: 37 saves on 28 shots, including 16 saves on 16 shots in the second period.