The team looks to bounce back after losing their winning streak to LSSU
The Minnesota State men’s hockey team still sits atop the WCHA standings, but it will take a complete effort for the Mavericks to stay ahead of a very hungry Northern Michigan team, when they play them in Marquette, Michigan this weekend.
Minnesota State is coming off of a somewhat disappointing weekend. The Mavs, playing host to fellow WCHA contender Lake Superior State, split the series with a 5-3 win to open and a 1-0 loss to close.
And while they currently hold the conference lead, they are being chased by both Bowling Green and Northern Michigan, who are respectively five and six points behind.
Minnesota State fell to No. 7 in the USCHO Poll released on Monday, as in-state rival St. Cloud State moved into the No. 1 spot.
And while Northern Michigan is still outside the top 20, that can be attributed to the Wildcats going 1-6 in non-conference play.
The Wildcats have gone on a six-game winning streak, sweeping Ferris State, Alaska Anchorage and Alaska Fairbanks. All three of those teams are currently at the bottom of the conference, but it has kept Northern Michigan in the picture for the conference crown.
Looking back at last week’s 1-0 loss, it would be easy looking at the box score to think that the Mavs would pull the win out.
They only allowed 11 shots to get to freshman goalie Dryden McKay, who stopped 10 of them.
Compare that to the Mavericks, who bombarded LSSU’s Mareks Mitens with 29 shots on goal. The Mavs also won the faceoff battle (27-22) and only had one penalty the entire game.
But the Lakers also limited their penalties, giving the Mavericks only three power plays the entire game.
The Mavericks are currently second in the NCAA in power play opportunities, with the Mavs’ 125 behind only Bowling Green’s 128. Converting on power plays will be crucial for the Mavericks this weekend, as Northern Michigan is currently 12th in the NCAA in penalty kill percentage at 85 percent.
Expect a low scoring series this weekend, as both teams sport top-ten defenses. Their stat lines are almost identical, with MSU allowing 2.04 goals per game to NMU’s 2.09. Much of this can be attributed to the teams’ goalies.
McKay has developed into a top goalie throughout this season, as he comes into the series with a 12-5-1 record in the net.
On the other side, Northern Michigan’s Atte Tolvanen has been an ironman for them. The senior has started every one of 23 games for the Wildcats, and has saved 92.5 percent of the shots that have come his way.
Both the games are scheduled to start at 7:07 p.m., Friday and Saturday in Marquette, Michigan. You can listen to the games in KTOE AM 1420.
Feature photo by Kjerstin Hall | MSU Reporter.