Brouwer’s 60 saves lifts Jamestown past MSU hockey in home finale

Alex Eisen/MDN University of Jamestown goaltender Tyson Brouwer (1) comes out to make a save on MSU defenseman Cody Longie (89) in an ACHA men’s hockey game Thursday evening at Maysa Arena.

Badly outshot and outplayed for long stretches, the Jamestown Jimmies (21-12-2) made the most of their opportunities Thursday evening to spoil the final home game for the Minot State men’s hockey team.

Carried by goaltender Tyson Brouwer, who made 60 saves in a standout showing, the No. 16-ranked Jimmies handed the No. 6-ranked Beavers (29-6-2) their second home defeat this season by a score of 6-3.

“(Brouwer) is one of the best,” MSU head coach Wade Regier said. “When he gives them a chance to win, then boom. We are losing at home… It’s tough. At home, we have lost like five times in the last five years. It’s unheard of that we lose at home. But, we are going to learn from this.”

Despite MSU trapping the Jimmies in its own defensive zone for minutes at a time and outshooting them 23-7 in the first period, Cole McKechney poached a rebound goal past MSU goaltender Joshua Bykowski to open the scoring.

Finishing another loose puck in front was Jamestown’s Bryson Lee 2:39 into the second period. While MSU had 20 more shots on goal, the Jimmies found themselves up 2-0 on the road.

It took a two-on-one breakaway for the Beavers to finally break through a couple minutes later. Shain Scheschuk finished off the odd-man rush to get MSU back within a goal, 2-1.

Undeterred, Jamestown answered back. Jeremy McNeil snapped a wrist shot that smacked off Bykowski and still went in for his second goal of the season.

That was the final straw for Bykowski. Regier went to his bench and brought Breydan Effertz in.

“It’s not always about how the goalie is playing, but a message to the rest of the team,” Regier said. “The goalie falls on the sword for you guys because we aren’t playing hard enough for him. On goals No. 2 and No. 3, the scorers were left alone in the slot and unaccounted for. So, from a system standpoint, we needed our guys to get back to playing our style of hockey and understanding assignments. We got exposed a little bit.”

Dylan Johnson shifted momentum back in the Beavers’ favor by messing up Brouwer’s timing. Johnson took a pass/shot in the middle of the ice, spun around and caught Brouwer leaning the wrong direction and stumbling to get back into position.

Johnson had a wide-open net to aim at and delivered. The Beavers went into the second intermission trailing 3-2.

“If we could just get two goals in a row, then it was like the whole lid was going to come off this building,” Regier said about the electric crowd waiting anxiously for the Beavers to even the score.

Keeping the Beavers at-bay, however, McKechney skated in for a short-side finish five minutes into the third period.

A rebound power play tally by Scheschuk got MSU back within a goal once again, but Lee also scored his second goal of the game while playing 4-on-4 with 10 minutes left, 5-3.

Cole Sonstebo added an empty-net goal with a little over a minute remaining.

“Maybe we needed this?” Regier said. “A wake-up call. Some bad medicine. A chance for us to regroup.”

Minot State ended up outshooting Jamestown 63-18.

“From an offensive standpoint, we did really well and did everything possible,” Regier said. “But we didn’t put that same offensive effort into defense. We would be all over them and all over them. Then, the puck would go the other way and we didn’t bring that same effort on our backcheck and gave up a soft one. It seemed like every time we got some momentum, they were able to get another soft one back.”

The Beavers are already locked into the ACHA Division I National Tournament as the No. 6 seed. The top 12 teams receive a first-round bye. Minot State will play No. 11-seeded University of Illinois to open the tournament on March 23. The Fighting Illini upended the Beavers, 4-2, in the national semifinals last season.

Prior to heading to Fresno, Texas, for the highly anticipated grudge match against Illinois, MSU travels to Jamestown for two more road tune-up games today and Saturday against the Jimmies. Puck drop for the final games of the regular season is set for 7 p.m. both days at the John L. Wilson Arena.

The University of Jamestown will be the No. 16 seed in the upcoming national tournament.

Alex Eisen covers Minot State athletics, the Minot Minotauros and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @AEisen13.