The Minnesota State Mavericks grabbed their first home sweep since October, as they faced the Lake Superior State Lakers over the weekend.
Friday’s game ended in favor of the Mavericks 4-2, and Saturday’s game went three overtimes before MNSU won, 3-2.
“I thought our demeanor between the first and second [periods] were really good; they just stayed on it,” said Mavericks head coach Mike Hastings after Friday’s win. “I didn’t think we had a poor period, even though we were down by one.”
While Minnesota State came into the weekend the favorites against a Lake Superior State team that have proven to be a tough matchup. They displayed an impressive, opening two periods in Friday’s game against the Mavericks. Friday was also the first time in six games that senior goaltender Cole Huggins found his way back into the net. In the opening period, the Lakers were able to capitalize on stifling defense with a one-goal lead scored by the Lakers’ Luke Morgan.
“That first period was hard, can’t fault him for that first goal,” said Hastings on Huggins’ performance. “I thought he made some timely saves that allowed us to stay at two, which allowed us to take a one-goal lead and that’s what you need.”
In the second period, the Mavericks came roaring back in the first three minutes with goals from Zack Stepan and Sean Flanagan to put the Mavs up a score. However, LSSU answered with Josh Nenadal’s score to tie the game.
The third period saw the Mavericks take over the game as they regained the lead off a goal from Park Toumie and his slapper from the blue line. Later in the period, Brad McClure netted the fourth Maverick goal to build the lead up to two goals.
Minnesota State’s consistent offense was a big difference-maker down the stretch, as they out-shot the Lakers 34-22. Huggins made 20 saves in his first game back in over a month.
On Saturday, the Mavericks and Lakers were back at it with another tight game. LSSU jumped out to a 1-0 lead within the first five minutes of the opening period from Mitch Hults. The defense of both teams clamped down in the second period, as both goaltenders saw a combined 18 shots on goal in the period.
“You need your horses to run- your old guys who have been around this and through this time of year,” said Hastings of the senior class. “Sometimes with the young guys, it’s hard to get them to visualize and keep their foot on the gas, especially for us right now and where we are in the standings trying to get on home ice…so great to see the upper-class effort.”
The third period contained all fireworks. LSSU looked to put the game away with a 2-0 lead off Gage Torrel’s goal early in the third. However, a late, offensive push from MSU saw Ian Scheid and Daniel Brickley make it a 2-2 game headed into the final moments of regulation. The goaltenders had phenomenal nights through regulation with LSSU’s Gordon Defiel saving 29 shots and Huggins with 25.
In overtime, the defensive trend continued as both teams were held scoreless through the extra period. Then came the three-on-three matchup in overtime, which saw the same level of defense. Finally, in the second three-on-three overtime, Parker Toumie was able to bust through the sought defense and nail the game-winning goal to tally up some crucial points for the standings.
“We’re close, that’s a team we’ve been trying to catch for a while,” said LSSU head coach Damon Whitten. “Haven’t had a ton of success, but we’ve made strides to catch them. It’s a good hockey team and tough place to play. We’re close, but we must find a way to come out on the other side. I thought special teams obviously hurt us; we had some good power play chances and didn’t bury it…that’s how close it is.”
MNSU will take on Alaska Anchorage on the road next Friday and Saturday, looking to add some more conference wins as the regular season approaches its end.