Minnesota Duluth got slapped in the face for a second straight game Friday night.
The Bulldogs held a third-period lead at home against a ranked opponent, but couldn’t close the deal in losing to No. 11 Minnesota State-Mankato 4-2 in a Western Collegiate Hockey Association men’s game before 6,120 fans at Amsoil Arena.
Six days earlier, UMD led No. 9 Denver by two goals with less than seven minutes remaining and lost 4-3.
Mankato and Denver each outscored UMD 3-0 in the final 20 minutes.
“Maybe we tighten up and try doing too many things. Maybe we’re hesitant,” said UMD senior winger Dan DeLisle. “We need to be more confident, especially in the defensive zone, and start closing games out.”
Mankato (17-9-3, 11-9-1 WCHA) had been 0-4 at Amsoil Arena and 0-9-1 the last 10 games in Duluth, and 1-13-2 the last 16 games against UMD. But that was yesterday. First-year coach Mike Hastings has remodeled the Mavericks into a fast-paced, attacking, opportunistic group.
Mankato led 1-0, trailed 2-1 after two and then outshot UMD 22-7 in the final period. Senior captain winger Eriah Hayes led the way with a goal and two assists.
“We knew (UMD) would be tough and we knew our line had to be good,” said Hayes, of freshman linemates Teddy Blueger of Latvia and Dylan Margonari, who also had goals.
Zach Lehrke, Blueger and Hayes scored in the final 20 minutes, the winning goal coming at 8:57 of the period. Mankato led in shots on goal 41-28.
The Bulldogs (10-14-3, 8-10-3) have now lost four straight games for the first time in five years. It was the first home loss against Mankato since a 7-1 defeat on Jan. 28, 2006.
The teams traded first-period goals. Hayes put a close-range backhand shot off of goalie Matt McNeely and Margonari was in the crease for a rebound 4:29 into the game. McNeely had a career-high 37 saves.
The Mavericks made an errant pass from behind their net which was intercepted by UMD defenseman Tim Smith at the left point. His shot was redirected by freshman winger Austin Farley and past freshman Stephon Williams with 7:23 left.
Mike Seidel had the only goal of the second period to put UMD up 2-1. Mankato had considerable puck possession in the opening minutes, but the Bulldogs put together a good rush. Farley passed to team scoring leader Seidel at the right point and his shot somehow found a small opening to the near side at 7:31. It was Seidel’s 43rd career goal and 80th point in 140 games.
“Our first period was decent. But that’s how things have gone, we play well for a while and then we played soft and gave up goals. We weren’t executing, no one wanted the puck, our guys were looking for easy ways out. Our guys have to figure it out,” said UMD coach Scott Sandelin.
UMD first-line center Caleb Herbert was lost to an injury in the second period and that was followed by an unraveling in the third. Lehrke scored through traffic at 3:32, Blueger got to a rebound at the right edge of the crease and Hayes converted a rebound with 3:37 to play.
“This just shouldn’t happen. It’s embarrassing,” said Farley. “We get away from our game and lose our composure. Mankato is a good, physical team and we have to find ways of getting second and third chances against them.”
After assistant jobs with Minnesota and Nebraska-Omaha, Hastings was hired last April to replace Troy Jutting after consecutive 11th place finishes in the WCHA.
“We’ve had problems with that the last month, finishing games, and we talked about that we needed to be better and we needed some leadership,” said Hastings. “That (third period) was our best period.”
Minn. State-Mankato………. 1-0-3—4
Minnesota Duluth……………. 1-1-0—2
First period — 1. Mankato, Dylan Margonari 6 (Eriah Hayes, Teddy Blueger), 4:29; 2. UMD, Austin Farley 10 (Tim Smith), 12:37. Penalties —Max Gaede, Mankato (roughing), 5:51; Charlie Sampair, UMD (elbowing), 8:52; Matt Leitner, Mankato (tripping), 16:29; Cody Danberg, UMD (tripping), 18:52.
Second period — 3. UMD, Mike Seidel 13 (Farley, Andy Welinski), 7:31. Penalties —Hayes, Mankato (tripping), 8:57; Welinski, UMD (interference), 9:59.
Third period — 4. Mankato, Zach Lehrke 5 (Jon Jutzi, Bryce Gervais), 3:32; 5. Mankato, Blueger 4 (Hayes, Brett Knoles), 8:57; 6. Mankato, Hayes 13 (Max Gaede, Blueger), 16:23. Penalties — Lehrke, Mankto (kneeing), 10:54; Hayes, Mankato (roughing), 13;51; Chris Casto, UMD (roughing), 13:51; Seidel, UMD (holding), 17:30; Chase Grant, Mankato (roughing), 19:07; Drew Olson, UMD (roughing), 19:07.
Shots on goal — Mankato 9-10-22—41, UMD 8-13-7—28. Goalies — Stephon Williams (14-7-2), Mankato (28 shots-26 saves); Matt McNeely (8-10-1), UMD (41 shots-37 saves). Power plays — Mankato 0-of-4, UMD 0-of-4. Referees —Scott Bokal, Timm Walsh. Linesmen — Sterling Egan, Brandon Polich. A — 6,120.