The Minnesota State Mavericks were tested this weekend in a road match-up where they faced a highly ranked Lake Superior State team. The two-game series had an almost playoff-like atmosphere throughout the weekend.
There was not a whole lot of positive things to take away from Friday night’s loss against the Lake Superior State Lakers. In only the Mavericks’ third road game of the season, the team appeared to come out flat, as the consistency of playing fast and hard has been hard to rely on so far this season.
In the 5-1 loss to Lake Superior State on Friday, the Lakers jumped out to an early two-goal lead on just five shots in the first period. The goals by sophomore forward Josh Nenadal and freshman forward Brayden Gelsinger of the Lakers were the only scores seen in the first period. The Mavericks were finally able to break into the scoring column in the second period on a short-handed goal by freshman forward Marc Michaelis. His goal was assisted by junior forward, C.J. Franklin and senior defenseman, Sean Flanagan.
Minnesota State attempted to make a comeback in the second period, but the short-handed goal was the only one the Mavericks were able to put in the back of the net. Not long after the Mavericks scored, Lake Superior State answered with their own goal in the second period by sophomore forward Gage Torrel. After that, head coach Mike Hastings had seen enough out of his senior starting goaltender Cole Huggins and pulled him, putting in sophomore backup, Jason Pawloski, to finish out only the second game he has played in all season.
The Mavericks gave it their best shot coming out of the break after the second period intermission, but Lake Superior State shut down any possibility of Minnesota State making a real comeback when they scored their fourth and fifth goals of the game to close it out.
Unhappy with Friday night’s results, the Mavericks came out of the gates in a stampede-like matter. In the first period, Minnesota State was able to score on a power play goal by junior forward Brad McClure, after Lake Superior State’s Mitch Hults was hit with a minor penalty for charging. The Mavericks were able to get an early lead in the first and held onto it for the rest of the game. Hastings even commented on the importance of that first goal to begin the game with a lead.
“It was big, the guys made a call,” Hastings said. “They decided on the power play, they’d break the puck out a little differently and two guys made a really nice play and it ends up going up the wall to McClure, and McClure can shoot a puck, and he did and it’s a one-nothing lead.”
Just like that, the Mavericks were on top. In the second period the Mavericks extended their lead to two goals on a short-handed goal from senior forward, Jordan Nelson. From that point, the Mavericks shut down the Lakers only allowing a power play goal in the second period. Pawloski recorded his first win of the season in Saturday’s game and Hastings was happy to see his team answer the way they did after a tough loss on Friday.
“It was a good answer by our team after last night. I think Lake Superior State deserved to win that game,” Hastings said. “We didn’t get off to a great start and had to play from behind. It was two-rip before the five-minute mark so, tough building to play in and I think they’re a very good hockey team and I like the way we responded tonight. I thought we played with more edge and conviction in what we did.”
After splitting the series the Mavericks have advanced to 7-3-0 on the season. Minnesota State has faired well on the road, splitting both series so far this season. Their next test comes at home against WCHA rival Bemidji State. Currently, the Bemidji State Beavers have a nine-point lead in the WCHA standings and are undefeated in conference play with a record of 8-0-0.
However, the Beavers are only one game up on the Mavericks overall with a record of 8-2-0. This should prove to be another high-energy conference series that should have a similar playoff-type atmosphere as the Lake Superior State series. The series starts Friday, November 11 at 7:07 p.m. and Saturday, November 12 same time at the Verizon Center in downtown Mankato.