Top-ranked Beavers sweep Lindenwood

For the second time in less than 24 hours, the Minot State University men’s club hockey team needed some third-period heroics.

After scoring four goals in the final 20 minutes Friday to rally past Lindenwood University (Mo.), the top-ranked Beavers netted two unanswered goals in the third period for a 4-2 victory over the Lions on Saturday at Maysa Arena.

“We kind of need to be kept humble and they are one really good hockey team,” MSU coach Wade Regier said. “We were pushed to the test. It’s one of those things, when you handle some adversity, which guys step up. We had a couple guys step up and make some big plays.”

MSU freshman forward Jeremy Johnson scored the game-winning goal on the power play with 10 minutes, 53 seconds remaining in regulation. Classmate Cole Olson added an insurance goal with 7:26 left as the Beavers (6-0) completed the weekend sweep of 10th-ranked Lindenwood.

“We played pretty well today,” Johnson said. “Yesterday at times we didn’t play too hot, but we played good enough to get two wins so that’s all that matters.”

Following a scoreless first period, MSU junior defenseman Mitch Peeke broke the stalemate 2:19 into the second frame. Peeke collected his own rebound in front of the net and tapped the puck past Lindenwood goaltender Trey Flesch. Olson was credited with the assist.

“It was a big two wins for us,” Olson said. “We knew it was going to be a good test coming in.”

The Lions (3-5) were without goaltender Kirk Croswell, who served a one-game suspension for the game disqualification he received Friday. Croswell slashed MSU senior forward Will Kinsman in the midsection away from the play, prompting the ejection.

MSU sophomore forward Brett Nespor gave the Beavers a 2-0 lead with a wraparound goal, sneaking the puck past Flesch. It was the first two-goal advantage the Beavers had against the Lions.

Lindenwood outshot MSU 18-6 in the second period and tallied its first goal against MSU junior goaltender Riley Hengen before the second period intermission. Daniel Rosse tallied his second goal in as many games to cut the Beavers’ lead in half.

Making matters worse for MSU, freshman defenseman Jon Stephansson was assessed a five-minute major for face masking and a 10-minute misconduct. The penalty kill kept the Lions from tying the game entering the third period, but Lindenwood’s Steve Brancheau scored the equalizer 30 seconds after the intermission.

Johnson broke the tie with his team-leading eighth goal of the season, beating Flesch glove side after receiving a pass in the slot from Nespor.

“(Lindenwood) was getting a little chirpy and it always feels that much better when you beat them,” Johnson said.

A misplay by Flesch gave Olson one of the easiest goals of his career and the Beavers another two-goal advantage.

“We had a couple of our young guys step up and defensively we had some of our guys on the back end step up,” Regier said. “For us, whenever we have to play these short days, we’re always going to be ready to go.”

Hengen made 37 saves in his first start at home this season.

The Beavers host Colorado State at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

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.