The Minnesota State Mavericks took on the No. 7 Minnesota Golden Gophers in the final stage of a three week road stint for the Mavericks. The Gophers pulled out with two wins in a tight series of games that had MSU hanging right with Minnesota in both the 4-2 and 2-0 games.
Over the weekend, everything pulled together well for the Mavericks, but it failed to be enough to edge out the top 10 school.
“I thought we played tough, we did a great job playing hard and played well on defense, we did a great job killing penalties,” said Mavericks head coach John Harrington to the MSU athletic department following game two of the series in Minneapolis. “It was a little different than last night’s game, the officials decided to call a few more penalties and we did a great job, we were on our heels a little in the second period having to kill the five minute major and it wore us down a little, but we hung around and gave ourselves a chance. Now we need to go back and keep working on developing our offense.”
Minnesota State did two things incredibly well over the weekend: first, they applied pressure to the Gophers goaltender. In the opening game, MSU was incredibly efficient, scoring twice on 17 shots in the first game. Tristen Truax hit the shelf in the first period to take the unexpected lead on the Gophers. The Minnesota onslaught that came in the form of three, second period goals put the Mavericks behind the eight ball. However, another Truax goal late in the game kept the bout tight as the road team was never quite out of the game.
In game two, while the Mavericks failed to find the back of the net, they put up a huge volume of shots and putting together one of their more dominant games against a top ranked opponent. MSU posted an oppressive 32 shots on goal, with 14 players getting to throw the puck towards Minnesota’s goaltender: Sidney Peters. The uptempo hockey was a nice change of pace for the women’s offense.
The second factor appeared in game two, when Chloe Crosby posted a career high 36 saves in an effort to keep the Mavericks in a game that was locked at zeros until late in the second period. Crosby’s ability to stay ahead of a Gophers offense that had monster day in a shot heavy game (both teams combined for 70 shots on goal) is what made the game so close despite the Mavs inability to score.
The problem throughout the weekend, and the season, is that MSU failed to put both factors together. Their goaltending was terrible in game one, allowing four goals on 29 shots, while the shooting efficiency was absent in game two. The missing piece for the team is still putting the pieces together every game.