The rivalry between the Minot State University men's club hockey team and Lindenwood University (Mo.) was amplified Friday at Maysa Arena.
MSU freshman forward Sean Delwo netted the game-winning goal for the Beavers with 13 seconds remaining in regulation, completing an unlikely 5-4 comeback over the Lions. Delwo deflected junior defenseman Brad Olynyk's slap shot from the blue line, beating Lindenwood goaltender Linus Ahgren.
"Me and another on the team have a thing we call the battle for the game-winning goal," Delwo said. "Probably the best time of the game and I wanted it all the way through. As soon as I got on the ice and saw Olynyk winding up, I wanted that tip and it went in. I'm happy to get it."
Minot State University junior forward Michael Jordan handles the puck against Lindenwood (Mo.) on Friday at Maysa Arena.
The win kept MSU's overall and home winning streaks - both now at 24 - alive. The Beavers scored four goals in the third period to prevail in a game that had some unforgettable moments, both good and bad.
"It's something that we talk about," MSU coach Wade Regier said, "just playing our game and sticking to our system. We'll be rewarded with our hard work, and sure enough, we were. We were able to generate a lot of scoring opportunities. I'm just proud of the character of the team that we found a way to win."
There was no love lost between the American Collegiate Hockey Association powers. The matchup grew more chippy as the game progressed as the teams constantly jawed at each other after the whistle and in the penalty box.
The hostility increased tenfold with 8 minutes, 25 seconds left in regulation when Lindenwood goaltender Kirk Croswell swung his stick into the midsection of MSU senior forward Will Kinsman. Croswell was assessed a two-minute holding penalty, a five-minute major and a game disqualification.
"Knowing our guys, we certainly wanted to stick up for a teammate," Regier said. "But at the same token if we knew we could be disciplined, we were going to get an opportunity to score. It is tough. That game could have gotten out of hand. We could have lost a few guys there and it could have gotten out of hand. Our character in that third period was really good. We stuck together as a team and were determined to win that game."
The Beavers (5-0) were unable to score on the seven-minute power play, or on the ensuing minor penalty with 2:37 left, but the extended penalty kill proved to wear out the Lindenwood defense in the final moments.
Trailing by two goals in the third period, MSU freshman forward Jeremy Johnson and Olynyk netted goals 50 seconds apart tie pull even with the Lions.
"It's not the way you draw it up," Olynyk said. "We have a lot of character in this dressing room and when we want to be desperate, I don't think there's any team in the country that can play with us. Unfortunately, it took until the last 10 minutes to show that."
MSU started strong, scoring 4:12 into the first period on a give-and-go play ending with a goal by senior forward Jared McIntosh. Junior forward Michael Jordan took a pass from McIntosh to the left of Lindenwood's net and sent it right back to him at the front of the net. McIntosh beat Croswell for the goal.
Things began to unravel for MSU just a few minutes later. The Lions tied the game with a short-handed tally on a breakaway set up by an MSU turnover at center ice. Peppi Sipila picked up the loose puck behind the Beavers defense and wristed a shot over the stick-side shoulder of senior goaltender Wyatt Waselenchuk. It was the first goal Waselenchuk allowed at home this season.
Penalties haunted the Beavers and seemed to further motivate the Lions (3-4) in the second period. MSU sophomore defenseman Ryan Curzon received a 10-minute misconduct after leveling Sipila near center ice after the whistle, much to the dismay of Regier. Curzon retaliated following an interference penalty by Sipila.
"Those are the type of penalties that really get a coach fired up," Regier said. "It's one of those things where they were already getting a penalty and then all sudden it dispels that and ruins that opportunity."
Lindenwood tallied two power-play goals in the second period to take a 3-1 advantage into the intermission.
The teams combined for 20 penalties.
"We were definitely a little undisciplined," Olynyk said. "We feel 5-on-5, we can outplay a lot of teams and that's kind of our strength. But when you start making trips to the penalty box, the bench shortens and only certain guys get out on the ice. It takes a toll on guys blocking shots and battling hard."
MSU and Lindenwood play again at 2 p.m. today.
Mike Kraft covers high school athletics, the Minot Minotauros and the Minot State University men's club hockey team. Follow him on Twitter @MKraft23_MDN.