The Minnesota State Mavericks (8-3-3; 5-3-2 WCHA) capitalized on a pair of goals in the second period to beat the Bowling Green Falcons (5-8-3; 4-5-1-0 CCHA) 5-2 at the BG Ice Arena on Saturday night.
Jason Wiley cleaned up on a Mick Berge shot 58 seconds into the period to tie the game, then sophomore defenseman Kurt Davis added to his 14-game scoring streak, beating BG goaltender Jimmy Spratt stick side to give the Mavericks a lead they would not relinquish.
“BG tried to feed a pass, and I knocked it down,” said Davis of his fourth goal of the year. “I went back two-on-two with Gaulrapp and passed to him. He tried to make a move, but their d-man made a nice play and stepped up on him. The puck just happened to fall on my stick, and I threw it on goal.”
The goal extended Davis’ point streak to 15 games dating back to last season. The Plymouth, Minn., native ranks second among defensemen nationally in points per game.
“I’m getting a lot of opportunities and ice time,” said Davis of his point streak. “I’m getting a lot of pucks my way, and just putting them up on net. I’ve got good players around me that make plays. A lot of times, they’re doing all the hard work. I just dish it to them and they go from there.”
After struggling somewhat last night, the Mavericks were able to kick their game up a notch on Saturday.
“We played better tonight,” said MSU coach Troy Jutting. “We definitely played with more jump and a little more intensity in our game. We were better in the one-on-one battles.”
The win allowed the Mavericks to stay unbeaten on the road this season. They are 4-0-3 away from their home rink.
“We still have not lost on the road yet this year,” explained Jutting. “When you can go on the road in college hockey, we’re almost to Christmas time, and we haven’t lost on the road yet. It says a lot about the makeup of the kids in the locker room.”
Bowling Green coach Scott Paluch saw his team compete hard, but noticed a difference between the two clubs.
“For a lot of the game, we competed hard; we just didn’t finish off some plays,” said Paluch. “Minnesota State had an extra gear tonight, and played extremely well. They got into a stretch in the second period where they got some momentum from a power-play goal. They capitalized on that momentum four minutes later to take the lead. That’s the reason why they’re where they’re at.
“We worked hard; we just couldn’t sustain enough pressure to beat a good team like that. We were just a play or two away all weekend, but that’s the difference.”
The Falcons got on the scoreboard first midway through the opening period when junior Kyle Page notched his first collegiate goal. The defenseman floated a shot toward the net that knuckled its way through traffic, off the glove of goaltender Mike Zacharias, and into the back of the twine to give BG a 1-0 lead.
“It was a nice look by Josh Boyd,” said Page. “He found me off the wall and I just tried to get the puck on net and it went in. It was a good job by our guys to get in front of their goalie so he couldn’t see it.”
After the goals by Wiley and Davis, the Mavericks increased their lead to 3-1 at 10:42 of the third stanza. Jerad Stewart picked off a puck at center ice and sent it up to linemate Geoff Irwin. He went in alone on Spratt and fired a backhand wrister that the BG goaltender was able to stop. However, Stewart, trailing on the play, was able to lift the rebound past a prone Spratt for his third goal of the year.
The Falcons closed the gap just over a minute later on a garbage goal in front of the net. Kai Kantola found the puck loose in the crease after a scrum in front. He slammed it home for his third goal of the weekend.
The Mavericks regained their two-goal advantage just 26 seconds later when junior center Trevor Bruess wrapped a shot around the post from behind the net for his eighth marker of the year.
“To answer back right away when they made it 3-2, that was the deciding factor in the game,” said Jutting.
Irwin added an empty net goal at 19:39 to close out the scoring for the Mavericks.
MSU’s Mike Zacharias, making his 42nd consecutive start, was once again strong in net, stopping 39 shots on the night, for a weekend total of 87.
“We’ve seen a lot of good goalies in our league,” said Paluch. “That’s one of the best goalies we’ve seen over the course of two nights. He was outstanding.”