The Mavericks once again failed to hold a third-period lead against Denver, and lost the first game of their WCHA playoff series at Magness Arena.
Minnesota State grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first period on goals by Zach Lehrke and Kurt Davis (Davis' came with two seconds remaining in the period) but the Pioneers came back in four unanswered goals in the third period: Kyle Ostrow on the power play at 4:20, Beau Bennett at 8:00, Shawn Ostrow at 18:25 and Shawn Ostrow again with an empty-netter with 55 seconds to go.
Those were the first goals of the season for Shawn Ostrow.
Bennett's goal was a highlight-reel play. He skated into the zone 1-on-2 and walked defenseman Evan Mosey with a pull move before scoring past Phil Cook. Bennett was a first-round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Penguins last summer. The last time I remember seeing an MSU D-man get beat like that was when Jonathan Towes made Nick Canzanello look silly.
"For two periods we couldn't have played any better," MSU coach Troy Jutting said when reached by phone afterward. "Ultimately, we played the game we needed to play, but then we made some horrible mistakes."
It was the Mavericks fourth loss in a row and their 11th game without a win against Denver. But it was also the third time in a row that they led the Pioneers in the third period. The last time, on Jan. 15 in Mankato, they took a 3-0 lead and were up 3-1 going into the third, only to lose 4-3 in overtime. A night earlier, they twice had one-goal leads in the third and settled for a 3-3 tie.
The Mavericks and the Pioneers will play Game 2 on Saturday night.