By Jared Bravard, @JaredBravard
A three-goal lead. A comeback. An ejection. Goalie changes. A shootout. Saturday night’s game between the Division I Cyclones and the Missouri State Ice Bears had it all. Iowa State ended up with a 5-4 shootout win at the end of the night.
“That was one of the craziest games that I’ve been a part of in a long time,” said Head Coach Jason Fairman.
Both teams started different goalies in Saturday’s game than Friday’s. Sophomore Alex Neverve took the net for Iowa State and senior Bailey Stephens for Missouri State.
After the first period, the score sat at 0-0. As that frame came to a close, Missouri State forward Henrik Löhman was sent to the penalty box for a cross-checking minor at 19:37. At the same time, Matty Moran picked up a head contact penalty which carries a five-minute major and game disqualification. After watching the footage back several times, Fairman did not agree with the call and said it changed the momentum.
The Cyclones killed over two minutes after Löhman came back from the box, but Missouri State took the lead towards the end of the major. Simon Hobbis took a shot from the point that found its way past Neverve at 3:52. Will Baginski and Brian Schumacher tallied the assists.
With less than 10 seconds left in the major, Missouri State doubled its lead less than a minute after Hobbis’s goal. The Ice Bears won a faceoff in the Cyclone zone, and the puck found its way to Louis Chaix. Neverve did not have a clear view of the puck as Chaix’s shot from the bottom edge of the faceoff circle found its way into the net at 4:34. Jack Brachbill picked up the assist.
The major ended with the score at 2-0, but Missouri State scored another goal soon after to make the score 3-0. Hunter Cooley and Josh Bell got the puck to Alex Rubin, who slipped a shot past Neverve from just outside the crease at 5:31.
Goalie Greg Moon then entered the game for the Cyclones. Neverve finished the night with nine saves on 12 shots.
“That point turned the tide,” Fairman said. “We made that nice comeback and got the lead.”
Just over three minutes later, the Cyclones got their first goal of the night. Stuart Pearson had the puck at the top of the slot and carried it to the top of the left faceoff circle. He fired a shot past Stephens’ glove for the top-shelf, power-play goal at 8:42. Max Olson and Ray Zimmerman picked up the assists.
The Cyclones added another power-play goal less than two minutes later. Pearson found Zimmerman in the center of the left faceoff circle. Zimmerman’s wrist shot made it past Stephens’ glove for a goal at 10:33.
Iowa State then tied the game at the 15:02 mark. Andrew Lee carried the puck into the zone and found himself at the top of the left faceoff circle. Stephens got his glove on the puck, but Lee’s shot was too strong as it found its way into the back of the net. Will Kutch and Jacob Schuldt tallied the assists.
It only took eight more seconds for the Cyclones to take the lead. On the ensuing faceoff after Lee’s goal, Zimmerman and Conner Hunt got the puck to Austin Keil. From the same spot as Lee, Keil fired a shot that also made its way past Stephens, and the Cyclones found themselves with a 4-3 lead.
Senior goalie Matt Griffin then entered the game for Missouri State. Stephens made 17 saves on the 21 shots he faced.
“I’m really proud of the team. We dug ourselves out of a hole there,” Olson said. “The guys showed a lot of character and were working hard so that was fun to see. We’re moving in the right direction.”
After the two teams combined for seven goals in the second period, Iowa State took that 4-3 lead into the second intermission.
The Cyclones had yet another strong start to a period in the series but could not find a goal to extend the lead.
“We dominated the first seven minutes of the third period,” Fairman said. “I couldn’t have been more pleased with the way we played.”
Missouri State got its game-tying goal from Henrik Löhman at the 6:57 mark in the third period. Nikita Salnikov started to take the puck behind the net, but instead, he centered it. Löhman had raced to the top of the crease and deflected the puck past Moon.
After a flurry of potential game-winning chances for Iowa State, the game went into overtime. At the 2:09 mark in the overtime period, Jacob Wiethaupt picked up a hooking minor. On his way to the box, a referee also assessed a two-minute unsportsmanlike penalty. This allowed the Cyclones to skate four-on-three for the rest of the overtime period.
Iowa State again had chances, but Griffin kept the puck out of the net to force a shootout.
“We had some Grade A chances that we didn’t convert on but that’s the nature of hockey and there were some lessons certainly learned,” Fairman said. “That’s part of the process of developing as a young team.”
Neither team could pull away in the shootout as they remained tied after seven rounds.
As the shootout extended into extra rounds, Everett Bestland started visualizing what he would do in case he was called upon. In the eighth round, Bestland was up.
“I had that move in mind before I got picked and I was lucky that he opened his five-hole up and I put it through,” Bestland said.
The shootout was not over yet as the Ice Bears had a chance to extend it as they had three times already. Moon swallowed up Jason Kelly’s shot, and the Cyclones erupted in triumph.
Moon’s thoughts headed into the shootout were to stay composed.
“In that situation, I’m just trying to be as patient as possible and not open up or give them a spot to shoot at,” Moon said.
Moon recorded 15 saves, including four in overtime, and allowed just one goal. Griffin stopped all 18 shots that he faced.
The Cyclones finished two for seven on the power play, and the Ice Bears were two for six.
Iowa State (9-1) takes the ice again on Jan. 22-23 in a rematch against Missouri State (0-1-1). The series will take place at the Ames/ISU Ice Arena in Ames, Iowa.
“I thought it was a really good team win. We all came together,” Moon said. “Everyone faced adversity tonight, and everyone had a teammate there to pick them up, so I thought that was pretty cool and definitely a positive out of the weekend.”