MANKATO, Minn. -- Friday night’s game between UND and Minnesota State-Mankato didn’t have a shorthanded natural hat trick, 13 goals or 65 penalty minutes like some others that these teams played in the Mankato Civic Center.
But the first meeting between the Fighting Hawks and Mavericks in Mankato in seven seasons featured just about every other element needed for a classic college hockey game: a raucous crowd that finished the game on their feet and chanting, multiple lead changes, high-end skill plays and two teams that have the look of contenders.
After two hours and 39 minutes, it all added up 4-4 tie.
“This is an experienced team that didn't lose hardly anything (from a team) that had success last year,” UND coach Brad Berry said. “They’re a fast, hard team and that’s what we are, too. We wanted to make sure we got to that level and I thought for parts of the game we did. It’s just a matter of learning from what we had tonight as far as how it got away from us a little bit and making sure we play a full 60 minutes.”
It was the first big test of the season for both teams after they each cruised in their season-opening series. No. 16 UND routed Canisius by a combined score of 13-1, while the No. 2-ranked Mavericks swept Arizona State by a combined score of 9-1.
UND’s regret from this one will be that it let a pair of two-goal leads in the second period slip away. It also held a one-goal lead in the third period, but couldn’t finish it off.
Minnesota State defenseman Connor Mackey scored a sharp-angle goal with 13:45 left in the third for the eventual tying goal.
But the positives were aplenty, too.
UND ended MSU-Mankato’s 11-game home winning streak by getting the tie. The Mavericks entered Friday night’s game with a 23-1 mark at home since the start of last season.
UND also generated far more offense than opponents usually do in the Mankato Civic Center.
Nobody had scored four goals against the Mavericks in the building in the last 25 games. The last team to do it was Michigan Tech on March 10, 2018. UND reached that mark thanks to tallies by Westin Michaud, Harrison Blaisdell, Jackson Keane and Dixon Bowen. Keane and Bowen each had two-point nights.
Nobody has exceeded four goals in the Mankato Civic Center since Alaska (Fairbanks) on Dec. 3, 2016 -- a span of 53 home games.
"It's a little disappointing, but it's a learning lesson for us, for sure," Michaud said. "We weren't really worried about their (home) winning streak at all. We were focused on ourselves and the things we've got to worry about here at North Dakota, playing the right way, listening to the coaching staff, and I thought we did that today for sure. But we've got to be better."
Defensively, UND kept MSU-Mankato's big line of Marc Michaelis, Parker Tuomie and Charlie Gerard off the scoresheet, but it was the fourth like of freshman Lucas Sowder, freshman Nathan Smith and junior Walker Duehr that did the damage.
Smith, a Winnipeg Jets draft pick playing in his first college game, had a goal and four points. Sowder had a goal and three points. Duehr had an assist.
"I thought it was a good game for the most part," Keane said. "A couple of tough bounces where I thought we gave it to them. But for the most part, I thought we took a lot of the pace to them and I think we just need to build on that."
UND also is working on building its resume for the Pairwise Rankings, which will determine the NCAA-tournament field at the end of the season. The season series with the Mavericks will be up for grabs at 6:07 p.m. Saturday in the series finale.
“We know how important it is for nonconference,” Berry said. “We keep talking about it all the time. It goes beyond just playing a rival in Mankato. It’s that every game is a do-or-die here to try to gain Pairwise points in the standings in the nonconference side of it. Coming out with a tie. . . it would have been better with a win. . . but we got a tie and we have to make sure we come out tomorrow.”