Well, the Alltel Center was filled to the rafters -- the announced crowd was a school-record 5,192 -- and they got a highly entertaining hockey game.
Minnesota exploded for three goals in the second period and then held off a furious rally to defeat Minnesota State 4-3 in the first game of the WCHA series.
The Gophers were desperate for a conference win and a power-play goal and got both. The Mavericks wanted to put on a good show in its home opener and did everything but win. Minnesota State came out flying but flattened after failing to score. After falling behind 4-1 after two periods, they mounted their comeback with a power-play goal by Mick Berge and a four-on-four goal by freshman Andrew Sackrison.
Reviewing my keys to an MSU win:
1. Great goaltending: Mike Zacharias stopped 20 of 24 shots. He played fine but wasn't spectacular, coach Troy Jutting said. It was hard to blame the goalie on Ben Gordon's power-play goal to open the scoring. Blake Wheeler made a nice pass to Gordon at the back door. Actually, Gordon partially fanned on the shot. The Mavericks needed to do a better job defensively to help Zacharias on the quick goals by Tony Lucia and Patrick White early in the second. Evan Kaufmann's game-winner was a power-play goal.
2. Stay out of the box: The Mavericks did that, committing five penalties and putting the Gophers on the power play just three times. But Minnesota, which came into the series in an 0 for 30 power-play slump, scored twice with the man advantage. The first took the crowd out of the game (and brought to life a good-sized Gopher contingent); the second was the game-winner.
3. Home-ice advantage: Minnesota State came out fired up and played brilliantly for the first five to 10 minutes. The Mavericks forechecked hard, got the puck deep and even got the Gophers to play some dump and chase. The only thing MSU didn't do in that stretch was score.
Notes: Led by center Zach Harrison, the Mavericks kept Kyle Okposo off the board. Okposo had no shots on goal and was -2. ... Blake Wheeler was a difference maker for Minnesota, however, getting two assists. ... Jutting said forward Jason Wiley was scratched because of the team's crackdown on dumb penalties; the coach said Wiley will play Saturday.