TUPELO – It took nearly three hours and featured 22 combined penalties, but the Mississippi State Ice Dawgs finally gave the BacorpSouth Center crowd something to cheer about.
Freshman R.C. Martin scored three goals, and the Ice Dawgs finished with three goals in the game’s final four minutes to earn a 9-6 victory over LSU in front of an estimated crowd of 2,200 Friday night.
“If we play flat, then the crowd is flat,” said Mississippi State head coach Mike Mayhew, whose team improved to 4-4 in its second season of SEC club hockey. “Near the end, we finally game them something to cheer about.”
Mississippi State and LSU will wrap up their two-game set tonight at the BancorpSouth Center. The puck drops at 7:30.
In Friday’s opener, Mississippi State carried a 4-2 lead into a frenetic final period, where the two teams would combine for nine goals, including three from LSU’s Stephen Musso.
When MSU took a 6-3 lead with just over 12 minutes left, LSU staged a dramatic rally, scoring three goals in a matter of two minutes. Musso tied the game with 5:06 to go, converting a turnover and flicking a wrist shot past MSU goaltender Michael Miller to tie it at 6.
“When they fought back and tied the game, our guys just came together and did what they had to do to win this hockey game,” Mayhew said.
Ryan Nash scored the go-ahead goal with 4:10 to go for MSU, and Tripp Horne and Will Walker each added goals in the game’s final moments.
Martin, a freshman from St. Louis, was Mississippi State’s highlight machine, racking up three goals over the first two periods of play.
His prettiest score came in the second period, when Martin split a pair of LSU defenders and wrapped the puck around a diving goalie to put the Dawgs up 4-2.
“I really don’t know what happened,” said Martin. “I got through those guys and they tripped me. When I looked down, there was the puck. So I knocked it into the net.”
On the night, Joe Lamerson and Alex Palmer also added goals for the Ice Dawgs.
The win makes Mississippi State 3-0 in Tupelo this season, a place Mayhew considers to be the team’s second home.
“Even with the weather like it is, we still had a big crowd out here tonight to support us,” Mayhew said. “That makes such a big difference. To see these fans come out and be vocal, I can’t tell you how important that is. Hopefully, we can get another big crowd in here tomorrow night.”
Brandon Walker/NEMS Daily Journal