Despite a slow start, Minnesota State mounted a late third-period comeback and earned a 3-3 tie against Alaska-Anchorage Saturday night.
After getting only five shots in the first, the Mavericks (3-4-3 WCHA, 4-6-4 overall) brroke out for 31 in the last two periods and overtime against the Seawolves (0-8-4 WCHA, 1-10-5 overall).
Down 3-2 with 7:44 left in the third, MSU’s Joe Bourne got the game-tying goal. Shane Joseph started the play as he passed from the left wing to Bourne at the top of the right circle. Bourne one-timed the puck past UAA goalie Chris King for his first goal of the year.
“Shane made a good pass over, and I just tried to get some good wood on it,” Bourne said.
Despite the comeback, Minnesota State’s performance was overshadowed by a poor first period against a team it dominated the night before.
The Seawolves came out hard in the first and outshot MSU 9-5. They played a physical game with a strong forecheck and kept the play against the boards.
“We came out hard, definitely,” freshman Ales Parez said. “We talked about it and wanted to come out hard today. We played good tonight. It was one of our best games. We haven’t had a win in a while. We really wanted to come out and send a message.”
However, the Mavericks still drew first blood in front of a crowd of 3,184.
Just as on the night before, MSU made the Seawolves pay for their first penalty of the game. Defenseman Steven Johns fired a wrist shot on net from the point. The shot bounced off UAA’s Lee Green and past King to give the Mavericks a 1-0 lead 7:25 into the game.
The goal came on not only MSU’s first shot of the period, but also on the first shot King had seen in a game since October 18. But the UAA goalkeeper shed his rust and stopped the other four shots of the period.
The Seawolves answered with a four-on-four goal at 12:43 of the first.
The trouble started for MSU as defenseman Peter Runkel lost his stick at center ice. As the play progressed, captain B.J. Abel gave his stick to Runkel. Meanwhile, UAA’s Parez took the puck from behind the net and came out front. Runkel was unable to recover as Parez drew Maverick goaltender Jason Jensen down and backhanded the puck over the goalie for his third collegiate goal.
“I tried to fake the shot, and the guy went for it,” Parez said. “I just walked in, and pretty much had an open net.”
The Seawolves came with a strong effort early in the second and got another four-on-four goal just 31 seconds into the period to take the lead.
Senior Petr Chytka recovered a bouncing puck in front of the Maverick net and put a shot on goal. The shot found space under Jensen’s right arm, squeezed past the goalie, and slowly rolled over the line for Chytka’s first goal of the year.
But the Mavericks came right back, tying the game just 18 seconds later. Sophomore Grant Stevenson took a pass from Joseph — who had three assists in the game — and flew down the left side of the UAA zone. He beat defenseman Spence Gilchrist, slid to the front of the net, and put the puck between King’s legs for his team-leading 13th goal of the year.
The back-and-forth action continued as Parez tallied his second goal of the night, and the fourth four-on-four goal of the game, to give Anchorage a 3-2 lead. The forward raced down the ice on a two-on-two rush, slid the puck between Runkel’s legs, and beat Jensen at 6:13 of the second.
“On the second goal, I felt like I had a lot of speed,” Parez said. “I just got the pass from Gilchrist, and I felt like I had a lot of speed. The defenseman wasn’t moving very fast. I just felt like I could beat him. Then I just went in.”
The rest of the period belonged to King as the goaltender stepped up his play and stymied the MSU offense.
Following Parez’s goal, the Mavericks had two quality chances on a four-on-three power play, but the UAA goaltender was up to the task and stopped shots by Abel and Stevenson.
King finished the period by stopping Joseph on a partial breakaway and robbing Bourne on a power play at the end of the second.
But the Seawolves weren’t able to hold of the Mavericks as they were outshot 17-6 in the third and allowed the game-tying goal.
After Bourne’s goal, each team had a power-play opportunity, but both teams were stopped. In overtime, both teams played conservatively and the game ended in a 3-3 tie.
The Mavericks had a tough time trying to explain the first period, one that Bourne called “terrible.”
“They played a lot harder tonight then they did last night, that’s for sure,” Bourne said. “They came with a lot harder forecheck; they were playing the body a lot harder. They definitely played a lot better than last night. We should have known that was going to happen. I don’t know if guys got caught off guard. It shouldn’t happen, but I wonder if it did happen.”
“It’s disappointing in the fact that we did not come out and play with more intensity in the first period,” MSU coach Troy Jutting said. “I know that was not a very good period of hockey for us. And I give Anchorage a lot of credit. They came out and they came after it. I knew they would, and we talked about it today in our meeting this afternoon.”
“We just need to be a little bit smarter,” Jutting continued, “and we need to learn that’s going to happen every night in this league. Especially if you win a game the night before where maybe you won it kind of handily, the other team always comes back and plays hard. We just did not match their intensity in the first 20 minutes.”
Meanwhile, UAA, which is winless in its last 15, was also disappointed in allowing the tying goal.
“You know what, the tough thing to take is that on the tying goal, we won the faceoff cleanly, and we turned the puck over,” said UAA head coach John Hill. “We failed to get the puck out of the zone, and for me that’s tough to take because usually as a team we do a pretty good job of winning draws in the defensive zone and getting the puck out. It’s something we practice every week. That’s tough to take, but MSU was pressing.”
But Hill was happy with his team’s fast start, which he felt led the overall effort.
“I just think we really came out and played with a lot of energy and urgency in the first period,” Hill said. “I knew that they would respond and come out harder in the second period. After last night, maybe they took us lightly. And our guys obviously came out harder tonight than we did last night.”
After this weekend, the Seawolves have a long break before they start the first of three consecutive home series on January 3 against Michigan Tech. The Mavericks stay home and host Colorado College next weekend.