Hockey secures sole possession of MacNaughton Cup

The team defeated Alaska Fairbanks Friday for their fourth cup in five years

Brady Olson
Staff Writer

Despite a close loss on Saturday night, the Mavericks won the ultimate prize of the weekend when a 6-1 victory on Friday over Alaska Fairbanks clinched them the WCHA conference championship.

Going into Friday’s game, all Minnesota State needed to clinch was a tie or better. The Mavericks were not looking to just tie however, and came out firing as junior defenseman Ian Scheid scored the only goal of the first period, giving the Mavs the early advantage.

The Mavericks would take over the game in the second period, scoring on three consecutive power plays within the first five minutes of the second period. 

Fairbanks would receive three power plays of their own within the period. 

After an additional goal from junior forward Josh French, MSU would close the period with a 5-0 advantage.

UAF would answer with a goal of their own, but sophomore defenseman Connor Mackey would respond with one of his own, and the Mavericks would finish Friday as WCHA champions. 

It was MSU’s second straight conference title, and guarantees the Mavericks will be the No. 1 seed in the upcoming WCHA tournament.

Saturday’s game was mainly uneventful for both sides, except for the lone UAF goal that would come near the end of the second period. Outside of that, it was a struggle all day for the Mavericks. 

The Mavs outshot the Nanooks by a 32-22 margin, but were turned away at every point. On top of that, the Mavs failed to create power play opportunities, failing on both of their opportunities in the contest. 

The Mavs spent the last two and a half minutes without a goalie looking for a score, but those efforts were also in vein as the Nanooks won 1-0.

After the upcoming home finale against Bemidji State, the Mavericks will host the WCHA quarterfinal on March 8, 9 and 10 if necessary. Their most likely opponent will be Alabama-Huntsville, with Ferris State also a slight possibility. 

The WCHA tournament is held on campus sites, so if MSU wins the quarterfinal, they also host the semifinal and possibly the final. The quarterfinals and semifinals will be best-of-three series, with the final being a single winner-takes-all game. 

Last season, they were upset in the semifinals by Michigan Tech.

The Mavericks will close out the regular season on Friday and Saturday when they play host to Bemidji State. Those games will both start at 7:07 p.m at the Verizon Center.

Feature photo courtesy of Maverick Athletics.

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